The UK Government has announced the introduction of the country’s first ever Road Safety Investigation Branch (RSIB), which will investigate road accidents and help shape future road safety policy. 

The Department for Transport (DfT) said that a specialised inspection team would be hired for the investigation branch, with the aim of providing insight into the factors causing road accidents, and what needs to be changed in order to save lives. 

Why has the investigation branch been set up? 

While the Government described the UK as having “some of the highest road safety standards in the world”, it said that the RSIB’s introduction would help ensure this continued to be the case during the modernisation of the road network. 

Not only is the investigation branch expected to look into how and why incidents occur, but it will also consider means by which new technologies – such as electric and self-driving vehicles – can be rolled out on UK roads. 

The branch will investigate themes in the causes of collisions, in addition to specific incidents of concern, in an effort to learn valuable lessons for road safety. It will present organisations, such as the Government and police forces, with independent safety recommendations, as part of efforts to shape the future of road safety policy in the UK. 

Another task of the specialised unit will be providing crucial insight into safety trends related to new and evolving technologies. Examples of such tech includes e-scooters, self-driving vehicles, and electric vehicles (EVs), with the Government signalling that it wished to ensure such new and exciting solutions were “deployed safely”. 

“Any injury or death on our road network is one too many” 

Roads minister Baroness Vere commented: “The UK may have some of the safest roads in the world, but tragedies still happen and any injury or death on our road network is one too many. 

“That’s why we’re establishing the road safety investigation branch, so we can boost safety for road users even further and also bring safety measures in line with other modes of transport and the future of travel.” 

Despite road collisions leading to a significantly higher number of deaths in Great Britain than those caused by other transport methods, there has not yet been an independent body to look into road accidents and what causes them. 

By making its move to bring in this new investigation branch, the Government is thereby aiming to bring road safety into line with other independent bodies that already concentrate on air, rail, and maritime accidents. 

To date, data and evidence have been collated via in-depth study programmes, the Collision Reporting and Sharing System (CRASH), Forensic Collision Investigation reports, and Prevention of Future Death reports. 

It is expected that the aforementioned data sources will be used by the RSIB, in addition to statistics gained from insurers, vehicle manufacturers, the emergency services and the NHS, to help bolster the body of evidence that exists with regard to the causes of incidents. 

Another significant detail about the branch is that it will not identify blame or liability, which means it will not substitute for police investigation. Instead, its focus will be on gathering all the available evidence, so that recommendations can be made to help enhance road safety and try to avoid similar incidents occurring in the future. 

The DfT said that it anticipated including measures to allow the branch to be created in the forthcoming Transport Bill. 

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