Road Safety Investigation Branch announced

TRL responds to the news that GB is to get an Accident Investigation Branch for roads, similar to the world-leading Air, Rail and Maritime bodies.

Published on 29 June 2022

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Today is a day of celebration: Baroness Vere of Norbiton has announced the Government’s intention to bring into primary legislation the creation of The Road Safety Investigation Branch (RSIB) - to make independent safety recommendations and shape future road safety policy.

The Department for Transport has today published its response to the 2021 public consultation on the creation of a Road Collision Investigation Branch.

Staff at TRL are nothing short of jubilant, that after 25 years of campaigning, an RCIB with similar powers to the other Accident Investigation Branches is finally going to happen. It’s time to stop the carnage on GB roads. TRL is confident that the RSIB will pay for itself in lives saved.

It appears that the Government has listened and accepted TRL’s primary recommendation to give the RSIB a remit to investigate individual incidents and not just themes. Especially in a time of rapid development of new technologies, the faster we learn about collisions and near misses involving new systems, the better for drivers who will largely end up relying on them without even knowing they are installed and active in their vehicles. GB has a world leading ‘in-depth study programme’ (RAIDS), managed by TRL for the past 12 years. RAIDS data has proved the value of single incident investigation, evaluating and analysing a wide range of data sources to effect significant road safety improvements.

Although it is a sound approach to model the Road version on the other AIBs, it is disappointing that the Government didn’t take this opportunity to make the RSIB better than the other AIBS, given that more people die on the roads than in air/rail/maritime combined.

The Government proposal doesn’t give any details about the potential size of the RSIB as an organisation. TRL are concerned that recruitment of staff for RSIB will take experts out of industry roles, causing issues with succession planning and maintenance of a cohort of specialists. In our response to the consultation, we proposed the creation of a Centre of Excellence, with a role in training and developing the necessary capabilities and skills, to mitigate the risk that UK will be a leader in road safety for a generation only.

Overall, TRL is delighted in the deliberate choice of “Road Safety” in the name rather, than “Road Collision” and hope that it is a genuine indicator of this Government’s commitment to a GB road safety policy, with appropriate investment. It’s time to stop the carnage… and make roads safer for all road users.

TRL's responses to the RCIB consultation can be read in full here.

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