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What is expected to be the best source of accident research data in ...
What is expected to be the best source of accident research data in

the world will result from a vital new DETR-funded project which

starts today.

A clearer understanding of the causes of road accidents is expected

from the£2m research project, resulting in more effective

preventative measures.

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

and Reading.

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

technical innovations.

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.

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