By Katherine Clarkson
A road accident investigation branch should be set up to prevent future fatal accidents, according to motoring experts.
Despite being responsible for thousands of deaths each year, often due to preventable factors such as defective tyres, the road equivalent of the air, rail and marine accident investigation unit does not exist.
The tyres watchdog, TyreSafe, recently highlighted the alarming level of accidents directly related to illegal or defective tyres.
It revealed that during 2007 more than 1,000 accidents occurred on the UK’s roads where illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres were a contributory factor, resulting in the deaths of 43 motorists.
Now the RAC is calling for a fundamental review of the way road accidents are investigated.
It pointed out that over the past 11 years, 337 people died in UK air accidents, 114 were killed by train crashes and 53 people died in UK territorial waters or on UK-registered ships.
The deaths led to investigations by air, rail and marine accident investigation branches.
However, despite around 36,781 people having died on the roads during the same period, there is no similar body to investigate road collisions.
Professor Stephen Glaister, the RAC director, said: “Historically, road accidents are analysed by individual police forces with the emphasis placed on finding out if anyone has broken the law. Identifying the underlying causes of crashes seems to be of secondary importance.
“We’ve been locking up drivers for a century and yet motorists still die in their thousands on the roads each year. The focus on solely penalising individuals rather than also identifying systemic safety failings is a serious flaw in current transport policy. Road safety should be driven by prevention as well as punishment.”