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Self-driving cars spark DfT crash investigation consultation

Road accident on country road

The Government has launched a consultation on creating a road crash investigation team as self-driving technologies become more prevalent.

The aim of the new Road Collision Investigation Branch (RCIB) would be to learn lessons from road traffic collisions, including those involving self-driving vehicles.

The RCIB would operate much like the similar independent bodies that already exist for air, maritime and rail accidents.

It would carry out thematic investigations and probe specific incidents of concern to establish the causes of collisions and make independent safety recommendations to help further improve road safety across the country.

Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: “The UK’s roads are among the safest in the world, but we’re always looking at ways to make them even safer.

“A new investigation branch would play a huge role in this work by identifying the underlying causes of road traffic collisions, so we can take action to prevent them from happening again.

“It would also provide us with vital insight as we continue to modernise our road network to ensure better, greener and safer journeys.”

The Department for Transport (DfT) consultation on proposals to set up a Road Collision Investigation Branch (RCIB), is being launched now due to the huge developments which are taking place across the transport sector, such as the rollout of increasingly automated and electric vehicles (EVs), it says.

Director of the RAC Foundation Steve Gooding said: “After excellent progress across many years, sustained road safety improvement has been hard to achieve over the past decade, both in the UK and further afield.

“We should be challenging ourselves on whether we are understanding all we can about the causes of road collisions and what could be done to prevent them – our research to date suggests that more could be learnt – which is why today’s consultation is so important and so welcome.”

Jason Wakeford, head of campaigns at the road safety charity Brake also welcomed the move. He said: “Currently, information about the perceived cause of a road crash is recorded by police at the time of a collision, but only provides basic insights which simply are not adequate to properly investigate and determine the most effective countermeasures to tackle future road casualties.

“Brake has long advocated for an independent agency to provide the necessary evidence to learn from crashes and so we applaud the Department for Transport for launching today’s consultation.”

The consultation will run until December 9, 2021.

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