The Government is signaling support for the creation of a new Road Collision Investigation Branch (RCIB) to undertake independent safety investigations into road traffic collisions for the purpose of improving safety and has opened a public consultation on the issue.
The RCIB would undertake a role in respect of road accidents that is analogous to that of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) and Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB). These aim to identify cause of incidents such that learning can be implemented rather than directly focussing on fault. Additionally in future, the RCIB could have the potential role of undertaking centralised specialist investigations into incidents involving increasingly automated vehicles which was a possible need identified in the Law Commissions' 3 year review of the law in this area.
The consultation will be open until 9 December 2021.
The consultation comes off the back of the ongoing Government-funded Road Collision Investigation Project being undertaken by the RAC Foundation in 2018 and follows preceding work undertaken by the RAC Foundation and Burges Salmon in 2018 in our report "A Highways Accident Investigation Branch – What lessons can be learnt from the rail industry and the Cullen Inquiry?".
In 2018, the Department for Transport (DfT) funded the RAC Foundation (RACF) with £480,000 to undertake the Road Collision Investigation Project (RCIP) which seeks to establish whether there is a business case for an independent Road Collision Investigation Branch (RCIB). While the final project report is expected to be published by summer 2022, the substantial volume of RCIP work to date, which has been shared with Ministers, firmly supports establishing an RCIB.