the world will result from a vital new DETR-funded project which
A clearer understanding of the causes of road accidents is expected
The 'On The Spot' (OTS) accident data collection project will see a
team of expert accident investigators immediately deployed to the
scene of a road accident and gather data that is otherwise quickly
lost. Analysis of this detailed data will identify where changes are
required to improve road safety.
The OTS teams will be supplied from the Transport Research Laboratory
(TRL) and the Research Institute for Consumer Ergonomics (RICE) of
Loughborough. The first team starts today in Nottingham. This will be
followed shortly by a TRL team covering a corridor between the M25
The OTS team will take video footage of the accident scene and
examine contact marks, skid marks and road features - and make
detailed measurements. Data will focus on:
- the vehicles (including damage, failures, features fitted and their
- the highway (including design, features, maintenance and condition)
- the people involved (including drivers, passengers and pedestrians
and, where possible, data on the training, experience and driver
aspects that might have influenced the cause of the accident)
- the injuries sustained
This research project will lead to substantial road safety benefits.
Collected data will provide information on issues such as alcohol,
fatigue, drugs, driver/rider experience, road user behaviour or
excessive speed, and their role as contributory factors in accidents.
This information will contribute to the development of suitable
Detailed accident data will help the development process of the next
generation of safety systems (such as airbags and seatbelts), assist
in developing advanced crumple zones, and assess the crash
effectiveness between different sized vehicles and designs.
Pedestrian, pedal-cycle and motorcycle protection will all benefit.
It is hoped a safety culture amongst designers of new products will
result and that UK industry will be prompted to develop further
It is expected the research will even lead to improvements in the
design of crash test dummies, which will be able to cater for gender,
age and body strength and also measure slight injuries.
In addition, OTS research will help the Highways Agency better
understand how road design and layout, weather conditions and road
maintenance influence the causes of accidents. This will assist the
Agency in improving the safety of the motorway and trunk road
network. The research is even expected to gauge the role played by
road surface contamination (such as by oil or gravel) and the
influence of kerbs, curves and street furniture such as signs and
lamp posts on road accidents.
Transport minister Lord Whitty welcomed the start of OTS:
'We need to upgrade drastically our knowledge of how accidents are
caused. Many accidents result from numerous contributory factors and
this new research will allow us to analyse each of these factors. If
we can learn to 'break the sequence' then we can begin to understand
how to avoid the accident happening at all.
'Through a better understanding of the cause of accidents, high
quality OTS accident research will help reduce the number of deaths
and injuries on our roads. It is a vital step in our goal to improve
safety on our roads for everyone.'
There has been notable success in reducing road casualties in Great
Britain. In 1930 there were 2.3 million motor vehicles in Great
Britain, but over 7,000 people were killed in road accidents. Today,
there are over 27 million vehicles on our roads but less than half
the number of road deaths.
Although Britain has one of the best road safety records in Europe,
OTS accident data collection is part of the government's commitment
to further reducing deaths and injuries on our roads. In March, the
Government set tough new casualty targets in its road safety document
Tomorrow's Roads - Safer for Everyone. Compared with the average for
1994-98, the targets (for 2010) include a 40% reduction in the number
of people killed or seriously injured in road accidents and a 50%
reduction in the number of children killed or seriously injured.
The OTS project is the result of two years planning and is a
radically new method of collecting accident data. Police control
rooms in the two areas will alert an OTS team to an accident and the
team will be immediately deployed to the scene. Each team consists of
two expert accident investigators and a skilled police driver funded
by the project.
A database for the data has been designed and the whole procedure
already tested. Many companies including vehicle manufacturers and
component suppliers have identified the value of the data and offered
their support. The project will initially last for 39 months.