Proposing a framework for pan European transparent and independent road accident investigation
2008-04-28T08:17:14Z (GMT) by
Unlike the rail, civil aviation and maritime transport modes, there is currently no standard process for investigating road accidents within Europe. There is, therefore, a wide range of road accident investigation procedures and protocols in place across Europe. However, as countries work towards meeting both their own road safety targets and those set by the European Commission, it may be that existing investigation practices are no longer suited to facilitating the decision making processes of road safety policymakers or practitioners. SafetyNet is a European Commission supported project, which is building a European Road Safety Observatory to facilitate the formulation of road safety policy in the European Union. Work package 4 of SafetyNet is developing recommendations for a Transparent and Independent pan-European approach to road accident investigation. These recommendations propose the establishment of an independent body for undertaking transparent and independent accident investigations where necessary, or the implementation of these investigations in existing national safety orientated accident investigation activities, in each of the EU Member States. This body would gather and manage accident investigation data and use this data to further progress road safety within the EU. To define the framework in which this body might operate, ‘Best practice’ from existing investigative organisations across Europe was examined in order to produce a set of draft recommendations which focused on four categories of issues: 1. Institutional, referring to the structure and functioning of the body responsible for road safety investigations; 2. Operational, detailing how the body carries out investigations; 3. Data, addressing issues surrounding the storage, retrieval and analysis of data generated by investigations; and 4. Development of Countermeasures, dealing with how investigation conclusions should be presented, used and disseminated. A consultation exercise was then undertaken in order to gather the expert opinion of European road safety stakeholders and to further develop the recommended framework. This highlighted a number of key questions about the Draft Recommendations including: • Is the proposed level of transparency and independence appropriate for road accident investigations? • Is one type of investigative activity appropriate for all types of accidents ranging from the most severe or ‘major’ accidents to the large number of more minor accidents that occur everyday? The major conclusion was that a ‘one size fits all’ approach is not appropriate for the investigation of road accidents and therefore multiple sets of recommendations are required. This paper discusses how the four categories of recommendations combine to form a framework where the data gathered during road accident investigations can be used to develop road accident countermeasures which will assist in casualty reduction throughout Europe.