UK government may launch a road collision investigation authority

  • November 1, 2021

A new “investigation branch” dedicated to learning lessons from road traffic collisions, including those involving self-driving vehicles, could be established under plans unveiled by the UK government last month.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a consultation on proposals to set up a Road Collision Investigation Branch (RCIB), which would operate much like the similar independent bodies that already exist for air, maritime and rail collisions.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) in the UK has been operating since 1915, while the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) and Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) have operated since 1989 and 2005 respectively.

An RCIB would carry out thematic investigations and probe specific incidents of concern to establish the causes of collisions and make independent safety recommendations to help further improve road safety across the country.

ETSC says that in-depth, independent collision investigation will be essential to the roll out of automated and autonomous vehicles and has called repeatedly on the EU to create a Road Safety Agency to oversee the task.  In-depth crash investigation is currently extremely limited across the EU – and basic information such as which vehicle features were active at the time of the collision are very difficult to extract.

Last month a Dutch government agency announced that it had successfully extracted vast amounts of data from a Tesla vehicle as part of an in-depth crash investigation.  But ETSC says such information must be made much easier for crash investigators to extract from all types of vehicle.