MIS044 TfL Fatality Research

Published: Dec 2021


Author: Adam Barrow, Nicola Hylands, Robert Hunt, Alice Wardle, Beth Opie

Pages: 103

Reference: MIS044


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In 2019 there were 25,341 reported collisions in London. While the frequency and severity of injuries from collisions has reduced in recent years, there were still 3,905 road users killed or seriously injured on London’s roads in 2019. If we are to achieve our ambition of avoiding all deaths and serious injuries on London Roads by 2041, we need to first understand the causes of collisions and to determine the interventions that will deliver a step change in reducing these collisions.

TfL and the Vision Zero Team currently use STATS19 data to understand the trends in fatal and serious collisions on London roads; this information is limited in that it is sourced from the first responders to the collision scene. A more accurate and in-depth source of information exists in the fatal investigation files that are compiled by the police investigation teams. The objective of this study is to understand the root causes of London collisions that have led to fatality in an in-depth thorough way. The study also aims to understand what mitigations could have been in place to avoid the collision entirely or minimise the harm from the collision.

The evidence presented in this report will inform TfL’s Vision Zero strategy development and, in combination with the additional information captured in the database, provide the evidence base for the development of road safety interventions in London. An output of the research will be the coding of the fatal files into a database for the period analysed. This coded information will be a resource for TfL to enhance TfL’s existing capability for future analysis work and to investigate further trends and themes.

In addition to the fatal files analysis, a literature review and structuring options paper were also conducted as part of this project to inform the development of the TfL Fatality Database and analysis topics. These are published separately to this document (Hunt et al., 2019) (Barrow et al., 2020).

The approach of investigating police fatal files and coding the anonymised data into a database enables in-depth collision data to be captured at a lower cost than a full in-depth programme that involves physical attendance of collision scenes and vehicles (e.g. theRAIDS). The limitations of this approach are that the investigations are limited to the information contained within the police fatal files. The police fatal files are created as expert witness reports and are used as evidence in criminal cases, as opposed to identifying safety failures and evidencing potential. This can sometimes result in a paucity of information that is critical to understanding the causation factors in a case (e.g. the driving experience).

A thematic approach to analysis has been applied in this report to maximise the usefulness of the information from a relatively small sample size (101 collisions in total) by focusing on depth of information on a limited number of topics. The selection of topics is based on a combination of existing TfL interests and trends identified by the TRL’s Collision Research Team.

The analyses are presented in the form of Intelligence Briefs on each topic, for the three collision themes of powered two-wheeler (P2W), pedestrian and speeding fatal collisions. Using a Haddon’s Matrix approach the project identified interventions which, if they had been in place, may have prevented the collision occurring or reduced the severity outcome.

The focus of the briefs is to provide a new depth of insight into the topics that is not possible with TfL’s existing capabilities in a form that is easily digestible and distributable. The briefs use graphical presentation of the data with key notes, interpretations and findings supporting them. Each brief is designed as a self-contained document that can be easily distributed individually or in combination with any of the other briefs.

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