Road Collision Investigation Project (RCIP)

Project update (21 March 2019)

Report published – Models and methods for collision analysis

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).

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 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:

  1. Development of an appropriate analytical framework, grounded in systems thinking, for effective learning from road collision investigation;
  2. Review of the critical factors that make the ‘learning cycle’ effective for Rail, Sea and Air;
  3. Collation and review of the learning from relevant and existing initiatives, with input from all relevant bodies;
  4. 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;
  5. 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;
  6. Development of a ‘learning cycle’ from road crashes including expert independent scrutiny and advice to Government; and
  7. Analysis of the potential range of costs and benefits from deploying a new approach.

Project timescales

RCIP is a three year project. The project commenced in June 2018 and will run until June 2021, with possible extension to June 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

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Updated: 21 Mar 2019