This report describes the continuation of a project which collects police fatal road accident reports at TRL. These reports, which are prepared by the police for presentation in evidence at the coroner's inquest, can provide comprehensive details of the circumstances surrounding these severe road accidents. 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. However, until the setting up of the first phase of this project at TRL, no attempt had been made in the UK to make these reports routinely available to accident researchers. The report describes the fatal file collection scheme, which encompasses nearly every police force in England and Wales. Overall, reports relating to as many as 75% of the fatal accidents occurring in these countries each year are recovered from the police. The files are of varying ages when they are acquired by TRL, the average being about three to four years, and they will be kept until they are ten years old. A structured means of access to the files via the National Stats19 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. All reports received from the police during the current and future phases of the project will be included in this database, which will therefore continue to grow as time goes on and more reports are received. 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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