For the first time, the UK will benefit from a new agency called the Road Safety Investigation Branch. The government is behind the initiative and says it will be staffed by specially trained inspectors looking into the why’s and how’s of incidents on the road. This will include critical insight into new initiatives such as electric cars and autonomous driving. Their findings will be used to determine what changes need to be made to make roads safer and protect lives.
No Independent Body
Even though road traffic collisions cause more deaths than accidents involving any other type of transport, no one has ever been appointed to report independently and investigate the cases. Such organisations already work as independent investigators within the rail, air and maritime travel industry. It seems strange that there is nothing similar for our roads when you consider how many people use them daily. Unofficially the RAC has been collating data and investigating where they can. Still, with limited funding and access to only three police forces, this has been a mammoth and unsustainable task.
Expensive Status Quo
The government has said that the current road safety set-up costs the country about £39 billion yearly due to collisions and incidents. It believes that the methods we use now to evaluate collisions are outdated, and the result of not lowering risks places a significant strain on the NHS and the economy in general. This team will endeavour to dig deeper and look for patterns and trends, highlight areas of potential change and publish learned lessons while reporting to Baroness Charlotte Vere, the Roads Minister and the rest of the government.
The branch findings will be used to change road safety policy and provide insight into newer technologies, including e-scooters which have already been at the centre of several very serious collisions. The aim is to ensure that the UK continues to lead the way in road safety standards by having some of the highest in the world. Speaking about this new group, Baroness Vere said, "The UK may have some of the safest roads in the world, but tragedies still happen, and any injury or death on our road network is one too many. That's why we're establishing the road safety investigation branch, to boost safety for road users even further and bring safety measures in line with other modes of transport and the future of travel.”
Many Contributing Sources
This Taskforce will access many different data sources, enabling them to comprehensively understand what is happening. They will use the current Collision Reporting and Sharing System (CRASH) as well as reports from police forensic collision investigation staff, data from insurance companies, Prevention of Future Death reports, NHS information and data provided by the emergency services. It is expected that more details will be given to the public in the upcoming Transport Bill, but there is little doubt that the instruction of the branch should improve road safety and, in turn, lead to few accidents, injuries and deaths.