In the UK it is a stark truth that there is no single independent body in charge of investigating and learning from accidents that take place on our public roads. There have been cars on the roads for over 100 years yet nobody is individually responsible for ensuring the accident rates fall.
Casualty figures on our roads have been reported and charted since 1926 and in this time over 500,000 people have died. It is a long time period but when you compare just the road vehicle fatalities in 2013, 1769 people, with the number who died in the air (30) and by train (4) it is clear how serious the situation is. One of the reasons the accident rates in planes and on trains is lower is because of the extensive and comprehensive studies carried out by dedicated bodies, the Air Accident Investigation Branch and Rail Accident Investigation Branch respectively.
All of this information has been collated in the new report UK Transport Safety: Who is Responsible? – produced by the Transport Safety Commission. It takes into account that individual police forces do effectively collate and record statistics about road accidents and look for faults, there is no independent external organisation that has a key role of doing more than just finding who was to blame. A body is needed to focus on the underlying cause of accidents and make recommendations for nationwide changes to bring the numbers down.
The Transport Safety Commission’s report looks in depth at the disparity between road, air and rail accident investigation. The report is the publication of the Commission’s first enquiry and had a wide range of recommendations including the following:
- Improvement to the arrangements in place for accident investigation so that learning about accidents is separated from prosecution
- The creation of an advisory body specifically for road safety, independent on the government
- The setting of ambitious road casualty reduction targets by the government
- Adoption of a systems-based approach to casualty reduction
- Better treatment and support for victims of road traffic crimes
- Improvement of actual safety and perception of risk of other travel modes on the road i.e. walking and cycling
This new report has come at a time where fatalities on the road are increasing for the first time in a long while, and this has shown the government and the rest of us that casualty reduction on our roads simply can’t be taken for granted.