The latest version of the ACPO Practice Advice on Road Death Investigation Manual, which will be published next month, is meant to outline a comprehensive procedure for assessing the causes of a fatal accident.
This lack of information means fleet managers are unable to prepare fully for a police investigation should a fatal crash involving one of their vehicles occur.
This will add to increased driver downtime, company expense and increased stress for those involved, says Saul Jeavons, the director of Transafe, a leading corporate road safety advisory company.
“What I would have wanted to see for this new version is a similarly comprehensive section on investigating fleet drivers and their employers, developed in conjunction with industry experts, so that the police know exactly what to look for,” he said.
“This means well-managed fleets would know exactly what to expect from an investigation and could prepare accordingly.”
The manual, which will be the definitive operational guide for all police officers involved in policing the UK’s roads, will be distributed to the nation’s forces in the coming weeks.
“The National Policing Improvement Agency employs full-time doctrine developers whose role is to gather good practice and extensively consult within the police service and stakeholders to produce the latest advice on a particular area of policing expertise or specialism,” explained Erica West, public relations manager at the NPIA – the authors of the manual.
“The NPIA would advise that fleet managers continue to liaise closely with the emergency services to ascertain best practice in the aftermath of a road collision.”
A final draft version of the manual, which has been seen by Fleet News, reveals that police officers investigating fatal crashes must assume the death is an unlawful killing until proved otherwise.
Therefore fleet managers must expect all fatal crash investigations will be extremely thorough and will involve delving into all of the relevant health and safety and employee duty of care procedures and policies in place within a fleet.
This level of investigation and the use of the systems in the new manual will also often be extended to non-fatal but serious crashes, meaning fleets should expect extremely in-depth police investigations for a wider range of non-fatal crashes involving their vehicles.