This report describes the setting up of a system for collecting police fatal road accident reports at TRL. These reports can provide comprehensive details of the circumstances surrounding these severe road accidents, and they are prepared by the police in every case for presentation in evidence at the Coroner's inquest. Such reports have been used over a period of many years for research into the causes of road accidents, the behaviour of vehicle structures in crashes, and the mechanisms by which the occupants suffer their injuries, but no attempt has previously been made in the UK to make these reports routinely available to the accident research community. Beginning with a pilot study involving five police forces, the report describes the expansion of the scheme to encompass nearly every police force in England and Wales. It is estimated that reports relating to as many as 75% of the fatal accidents occurring in these countries each year can be recovered from the police. The files are approximately three years old when they are acquired by TRL, and they will be kept until they are ten years old. A structured means of access to the files via the National STATS 19 injury accident database is available, allowing pre-selection of accidents of interest. The files received from the police are sometimes incomplete, but the file cataloguing process also records the presence of such items of information as post-mortem reports and photographs of the vehicles and the accident scene, so that, if desired, only files containing information of importance to a particular analysis can be selected. Detailed information from a proportion of the reports has been extracted and placed in a computerised database, which forms a powerful means of analysis of this information. A spin-off benefit is that this database can also be used for more detailed pre-selection of accident types, before consulting the relevant hard-copy reports. This combination of rapid computerised analysis coupled with the in-depth information available in the hard-copy reports makes for a very powerful resource in the accident investigation arena. (A)

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