Road Collision Investigation Project (RCIP)

About this project

In June 2018, the RAC Foundation received almost half a million pounds of government funding to pilot new ways of investigating road crashes.

The £480,000, plus match funding from National Highways, is being used to develop and trial, in a number of police force areas, a different approach to identifying and understanding common themes and patterns that result in death and injury on the public highway. The insight could then help shape future policy making.

The priority of police forces is to investigate crashes with the intention of identifying criminal culpability and bringing individuals to account. This project seeks to establish whether there is a business case for putting more resource into the investigation of road crashes adopting the approaches used to collision investigation in other modes (Rail, Air & Sea) and safety critical industries (Oil & Gas).

Project background

The RAC Foundation, alongside other road safety organisations and bodies, has campaigned for a different approach to crash investigation for many years and has published a number of papers on the subject, including:

Project purpose

The purpose of the Road Collision Investigation Project (RCIP) is to establish whether there is a business case for putting more resource into the investigation of road crashes, based on a comparison with the approach to crash investigation used for other modes (Rail, Air and Sea) and safety critical industries (Oil & Gas) which suggests there could be a critical gap in the feedback cycle from the investigation of individual incidents through to the development of policies and strategies to reduce the incidence of crashes and mitigate the severity of those still happening.

The project will develop new approaches to harvesting and analysing data about the causes of road crashes from different sources, including information from police investigations beyond that captured in STATS19 returns, and will look across agencies to improve our understanding of the circumstances that result in death, injury and traffic disruption. RCIP will look for patterns emerging from similar incidents in different places, and will consider and potentially trial interventions to tackle the causes identified.

Project aims and objectives

This project will seek to establish whether there is a business case for putting more resource into the investigation of road crashes and if there is, to establish how best to develop it. It will include the:

  • Development of an appropriate analytical framework, grounded in systems thinking, for effective learning from road collision investigation;
  • Review of the critical factors that make the ‘learning cycle’ effective for Rail, Sea and Air;
  • Collation and review of the learning from relevant and existing initiatives, with input from all relevant bodies;
  • Identification and review of existing data from road collisions, identification of additional sources of data and testing the extent to which fresh lessons can thus be learned. The limitations of current data capture and analysis will be identified as well as potential options for improvement;
  • Development and application of new analytical protocols for testing in a real-world setting involving two or more police constabularies, in partnership with Highways England and local highway authorities;
  • Development of a ‘learning cycle’ from road crashes including expert independent scrutiny and advice to Government; and
  • Analysis of the potential range of costs and benefits from deploying a new approach.

Project timescales

RCIP is a four year project. The project commenced in June 2018 and will report by Summer 2022.

Project partners

This work is being led by the RAC Foundation, in collaboration with and supported by the Department for Transport (DfT), Highways England (HE), the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) and other national and local organisations.

For more information

To receive further updates about this project and the other work of the RAC Foundation please sign-up to our mailing list. Alternatively please get in touch via email at [email protected] You can also follow us on Twitter @racfoundation.


Project Updates

RCIP police force area profiles published

March 2021

Dr. Craig Smith and Bruce Walton of Agilysis have completed three reports on neural network analysis using STATS19 data for each of the three RCIP police force areas (Dorset, Devon & Cornwall, Humberside and West Midlands) with an accompanying report on the methodology behind their analysis. These profiles outline collision trends and performance in relation to comparators for each RCIP area and will enable the RCIP investigators to put into context the individual in-depth investigations that they are conducting.

International review of road collision investigation approaches published

December 2020

A UK Road Collision Investigation Branch (RCIB) “should be established as an impartial investigator, independent from the existing judicial investigation process operated by the police.”

The RCIB should have the necessary power and resources to allow it to investigate “‘major’ incidents (i.e. of significant economic impact, as well as those involving injury and death)” and have access to the scenes of incidents as soon as possible after they occur.

These are just two of the thirteen recommendations to come out of a report – International Review of Road Collision Investigation Approaches – by Saul Jeavons and Adrian Runacres of The Transafe Network Ltd.

Emerging findings in the investigation process

November 2020

Matthew Dale, Roads Collision Investigation Analyst at Humberside Police provides an outline of the Road Collision Investigation Project (RCIP) investigatory process and emerging project findings as part of the Road Safety GB Festival of Road Safety 2020.

Addressing the social and economic costs of collisions

October 2020

The Dorset, Devon & Cornwall RCIP investigator has been working to uncover the social and economic costs of several closed collision investigations. From this in-depth analysis the project has begun discussions with a health economist to review these costs and how they could inform the RCIP business case. In relation to this, the project is engaging with DfT and Highways England activities reviewing cost of collision figures, which will be made use of in the final RCIP report.

Report Update – International Review of Road Collision Investigation Approaches nearing completion

July 2020

An International Review of Road Collision Investigation Approaches is in its final stages of development. The work, being conducted by TranSafe Network, aims to identify the International Road Collision Investigation functions and formats with relevant application to the UK context. The report will shortly be going out for International consultation and is expected to be published in Autumn 2020.

Report reviewing – Review process starts for in-depth investigations

May 2020

RCIP Investigators have, to date, produced a total of 18 in-depth reports which are currently going through four levels of review. Professor Neville Stanton has been appointed to conduct an academic expert review of the reports and TRL have been appointed provide an expert panel review of the cases. This process will ensure that expert insight can be brought to bear on the safety learning emerging from RCIP Investigations.

Analysis Commission – RCIP Police force area profiles

March 2020

Agilysis has been commissioned to provide detailed collision profiles for RCIP participating police force areas for interrogation and use by RCIP local investigators. These profiles will outline collision trends and performance in relation to comparators for each RCIP area and will enable the RCIP investigators to put into context the individual in-depth investigations that they are conducting. The work will also inform in-depth investigation selection decisions as the project progresses. 

Report Commission – Diesel Spill on the Strategic Road Network (SRN)

February 2020

In association with Highways England, RCIP has been exploring options for better capturing the impact of delay caused by collisions on the motorway and trunk road network, specifically those involving diesel spillage.

This project, commissioned with Tonic Analytics as part of the existing Galileo project, aims to use data driven techniques to measure and quantify the impacts of incidents occurring on the Strategic Road Network (SRN). Modelling and establishing the costs associated with diesel spill on the Strategic Road Network, will provide a method and format for contributing towards articulating the business case for an independent road collision investigation function, as part of the RCIP project.

 Training update – Investigators complete next step in their training

December 2019

Local RCIP investigators from Dorset, Devon & Cornwall Police, Humberside Police, Transport for London & West Midlands Police, have completed their training with Professor Neville Stanton of Southampton University on AcciMap investigation models. They are using this approach within their investigation of closed cases to establish system level safety issues for consideration as part of RCIP. Some early findings from this work will be presented to the RCIP steering board for consideration in December 19.

Project working document – RAC Foundation RCIP Feasibility Study

July 2019

The aim of this project carried out by TRL was to assess the validity of the AcciMap framework in relation to in-depth collision investigations by evaluating its compatibility with existing in-depth collision investigation programmes.

The comparison showed good evidence for using the AcciMap method to identify systems failures and provide recommendations that can improve the outcome of individual collisions. The report also highlights a number of challenges and limitations with the method that should be considered before implementation to ensure that the recommendations provide useful safety findings that are evidence-based. The findings of this working document will be used to inform the development of a new AcciMap framework that RCIP analysts will trial to investigate fatal and serious collisions in RCIP local police force areas.

Report published – Models and methods for collision analysis

March 2019

This report by Professor Neville Stanton of the University of Southampton is the first in a series of technical notes and reports to support the development of the Road Collision Investigation Project. It describes how accident causation models have changed over time and details the rationale for taking a systems approach to collision investigation. A summary, explanation and comparison of key systemic human factors accident investigation models and human factors accident analysis methods is provided, illustrated by a case study from the US where an Uber vehicle was involved in a collision with a pedestrian in March 2018.

The report has sought to present a view on collision analysis methods and their applicability to road collisions. Expert judgment has been used to compare the eight methods selected for review, and these have been applied to the case study. From this analysis, Professor Stanton recommends that the Actor Map and AcciMap methods are used for the Road Collision Investigation Project (RCIP).

Updated: 24 Nov 2020