Building the European Road Safety Observatory. SafetyNet. Deliverable D4.1 Bibliographical analysis
2009-03-25T14:00:11Z (GMT) by
The notion of independence, as commonly used, is somewhat fuzzy. Some public bodies, such as the Federal Reserve System in the United States or the European Central Bank are independent. The Court of Justice of European Communities is also an independent and autonomous institution. These institutions have characteristics consistent with the formal definition of the notion of independence. They are independent, in the limits of their missions, because they are not subject to outside control. They are separate and do not take instructions from other public bodies. They are financially autonomous and the members of these institutions themselves are qualified and independent. In relation to the field of research, the meaning of independence does not seem excessively problematic. As for the central banks or the judicial institution, a certain amount of independence –independence of the entity, that of the researchers and of the research itself– would be vital for the impartiality and the quality of the research process and its results. Therefore, an independent accident investigation body should not be subject to outside control in the pursuit of its mission. It should be separate from other bodies, public or private, having financial or other interests in the results of its investigations. It should not take instructions from other bodies or outside personalities. It should have adequate control over the use of its investigation results. Finally, it should be financially autonomous and its members be qualified and independent themselves. In the United States, the contrast between National Transportation Safety Board and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is most interesting. While NTSB has a solid reputation as an investigation body, wearing several hats puts NHTSA in a somewhat uncomfortable position. In that particular case, the main problem seems to arise from the ties it has to the manufacturers as the authority responsible for the safety regulations and for the safety investigation. In Europe there are several Directives or Regulations, as well as a White Paper, a Communication from the Commission and a Work Programme, that concern transport safety. In the field of civil aviation, there are two specific European Directives: 1. Council Directive 94/56/EC of 21 November 1994 establishing the fundamental principles governing the investigation of civil aviation accidents and incidents; and 2. Directive 2003/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 June 2003 on occurrence reporting in civil aviation The purpose of a safety (or accident) investigation, the authorised methods and practices, as well as the definitions have been set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) since the 1944 Chicago Convention. Accident investigations in Europe and worldwide rely on the Chicago Convention Annex Bibliographical Analysis Project co-financed by the European Commission, Directorate-General Transport and Energy sn_inrets_wp4_d4.1_14/11/2005_final Page 5 13. The first version of the Annex 13 was drafted in 1951; the current version (9th) was agreed upon in 2001. The European Directives’ focus is on the structural, financial and functional independence of the investigating body. National laws adapting the international and European requirements concerning the independence of the safety investigation and of the investigation body exist in all studied Member States, namely in Germany, France, Italy, Finland and United Kingdom. All these Member States have an independent civil aviation accident investigation body. In the field of maritime transport, there is one general European Directive: 1. Council Directive 1999/35/EC of 29 April 1999 on a system of mandatory surveys for the safe operation of regular ro-ro ferry and high-speed passenger craft services The purpose of a safety (or accident) investigation, the methods and practices, as well as the definitions have been set by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The accident investigation in Europe and worldwide tends to respect the IMO Code for the Investigation of Marine Casualties and Incidents, agreed upon by the Resolution A849/20 from 1997. The European Directive structures the maritime transport in a quite general manner. It is not specific to accident investigation and does not require the Member States to establish an independent investigation body. However, the Directive’s aim is to ensure the harmonised enforcement of some principles agreed upon within the IMO, particularly the IMO Code for the Investigation of Marine Casualties and Incidents. The IMO Code states that ideally an investigation on a marine casualty should be separate from, and independent of, any other form of investigation. Therefore, while the Member States have no formal obligation to establish an independent investigation body for the investigation of marine casualties, this remains an objective. National laws adapting the international and European recommendations concerning the independence of the safety investigation and of the investigation body exist in Germany, France, Finland and United Kingdom. In the field of rail transport, there are three general Directives: 1. Council Directive 91/440/EEC on the development of the Community's railways amended by the 2. Directive 2001/12/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2001; and 3. Directive 2004/49/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on safety on the Community's railways The purpose of a safety (or accident) investigation, the methods and practices as well as the definitions are set by the 2004 Directive. It requires the Member States to establish an independent accident investigation body. The European Directives’ structure the rail transport in a quite general manner. The International Union of Railways (UIC) uses the European definitions for its Bibliographical Analysis Project co-financed by the European Commission, Directorate-General Transport and Energy sn_inrets_wp4_d4.1_14/11/2005_final Page 6 Safety Data Base project. National laws adapting the European requirements concerning the independence of the safety investigation and of the investigation body exist or will shortly be acted in all studied Member States. In the field of road transport, there are no European Directives or Regulations nor any other international legal framework. National laws on safety (or accident) investigation and the investigation body exist in France and in Finland. Italy, Germany and United Kingdom have opted for separate investigation bodies for different transport modes. France has opted for separate investigation bodies for civil aviation and maritime, while all the land transports are investigated by one body. Finland has an investigation body for civil aviation and all major accidents, whether they involve a mode of transport or not, and another system for investigating road and cross-country accidents. It is clear that road accident investigations differ from the accident investigation in other transport modes. Only two of the Member States, whose accident investigation practices have been assessed, have a legal national framework applicable to road accident safety investigation. In France, the decision on opening a safety investigation on a road accident is taken by the Minister of Transport. In 2004, only three accidents involving road traffic vehicles were investigated. In Finland, all fatal road accidents and some non-fatal road accidents are investigated. On average, some 500 road accidents, of which 370 fatal, are investigated annually. The bulk of the research in road safety in all involved Member States, with the exception of Finland, is therefore made by research bodies that do not have the legal status of a body responsible for conducting safety (or accident) investigations.