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Road Collision Investigation Branch needed to share safety measures as more self-driving vehicles take to Britain's roads

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Road accidents could be investigated by a new team tasked with sharing safety messages across the country, under new plans being drawn up by the government.

The dedicated unit would be at the forefront of investigations into accidents with self-driving or semi-autonomous vehicles.

The proposed Road Collision Investigation Branch would work in a similar way to existing bodies which investigate air, rail and maritime accidents. They do not point the finger but rather share thematic safety messages so that similar incidents do not happen time and time again.

The government argues the new branch is needed because of massive changes in the transport industry including increased use of autonomous or self-driving vehicles and electric vehicles.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) (52731979)
Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) (52731979)

Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: "The UK’s roads are among the safest in the world, but we’re always looking at ways to make them even safer.

"A new investigation branch would play a huge role in this work by identifying the underlying causes of road traffic collisions, so we can take action to prevent them from happening again.

"It would also provide us with vital insight as we continue to modernise our road network to ensure better, greener and safer journeys."

Director of the RAC Foundation Steve Gooding said: "After excellent progress across many years, sustained road safety improvement has been hard to achieve over the past decade, both in the UK and further afield.

"We should be challenging ourselves on whether we are understanding all we can about the causes of road collisions and what could be done to prevent them – our research to date suggests that more could be learnt – which is why today’s consultation is so important and so welcome."

Plans for the RCIB have been revealed by the the Department for Transport (DfT). It now wants to hear what people think of the plans. The consultation runs until December 9.

Independent bodies are long-standing features of accident investigation practice in the UK.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has been operating for more than 100 years. It was established in 1915.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) was set up in 1989 and the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has operated since 2005.

Baroness Vere's picture is used under Creative Commons.

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