Road Safety News

Collision analysts’ report published

Tuesday 28th July 2015

A report summarising the views, experiences and aspirations of more than 100 road collision analysts has been published on the Road Safety Analysis and Road Safety Knowledge Centre websites.

The report gives the findings of a survey developed by Road Safety GB in partnership with Road Safety Analysis (RSA), with grant funding provided by the DfT, as a scoping exercise to establish the needs of analysts.

The survey shows that road collision analysts would welcome more support and recognition of the specialist work they undertake, and for it to be easier for them to interact with their peers and share best practice.

The survey, undertaken during May and June 2015, attracted 114 responses from local authority employees and a small number (circa 10% of total) working for national organisations including the RAC Foundation, Highways England and the Transport Research Laboratory.

The results show that while many respondents are confident in their analytical skills, there is a desire for further training and for sharing best practice.

The report details a series of immediate actions, interim measures and longer-term plans to address the survey findings and requirements outlined by analysts.

Honor Byford, chair of Road Safety GB, said: “The management team at Road Safety GB, along with colleagues at the DfT, RSA and those who contributed the survey, are considering the next steps, and we will publish regular progress updates via this newsfeed.”


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Following on what Nigel said, there is a danger in reading too much into data and attaching more significance to it than is actually warranted, or believing that analysing it is the only answer to 'problems', when the application of common sense, observation and an understanding of how things happen and how we behave on the roads counts for a lot. Conclusions reached from analysis alone can be misleading especially, as I said earlier, if the data itself is not necessarily accurate.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (9)

Thanks David, we will take up your suggestion. Our primary aim with this survey was to find the specialist collision and casualty data analysts and see what support, training and networking the analysts themselves need and want. We are now much better informed about that and are working with the analysts on how to meet their needs. Linking the analysts with academics and with collision investigators and educators should and will come after that.

For Nigel, these analysts are practitioners working within local highway authorities or their contractors and local road safety partnerships so they are the interface between local data collection and analysis and those who are charged to act upon that data i.e. engineers, educators and enforcement agencies. They do also need to be connected with academic studies and research and will form an important link between theoretical research, practical analysis but this is a step further on.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

Agree (6) | Disagree (0)

It would be interesting to see if the views of specialist traffic collision investigators (police, RAIDS researchers, ITAI members etc) who – as far as I can see – are not the “analysts” surveyed in the report. Is there some overlap or synergy to be achieved here? The Transport Safety Commission called for more learning from to be gained from fatal collision investigations, distinct from prosecution, as happens aviation and rail.
David Davies

Agree (7) | Disagree (0)

I have long been worried when academics get their hands on RS statistics. Everything has to be minutely analysed and categorized, often from a desk, but life generally isn't like that. Most of them will have done nothing more than a standard driving test. It's the full circle thing really; back to basics. Most drivers seem to have a casual approach to their driving and as one speaker once said, 'casualness brings casualties'. Don't make excuses and give reasons why aka 'temporary loss of concentration', or, 'imperfection is part of human nature'. Once people become accountable for their behavior and realise that in so many cases they travel with a fairly high vulnerability to crashes, they will sit up, get their arm off the window sill, and get focused on the task hand. Then you will see a major reduction in crashes. Once people become accountable for their behavior they change. It's just that most people can't be bothered. But that's difficult to get across to academics whose CV often relies on the number of papers they write. Ok, that's an over simplification but, the essence is right to my mind.
Nigel Albright

Agree (7) | Disagree (11)

It would be useful if someone did a survey of police officers who regularly have to write up the initial collision reports, to see what they think of the system - particularly the contributory factors bit. The usefulness of any analysis which subsequently takes place, depends on the accuracy and credibilty of the information supplied in the first place.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (23) | Disagree (0)

Thank you both for your suggestions which are duly noted and which will go into the mix.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

Agree (12) | Disagree (0)

I'm really pleased to see this work done.

The analysis of data; the creation of intelligence and consequential evidence based decision making needs to be a central feature of our work. Our analysts - and their research colleagues - are a core asset and deserve both recognition and support.

Another idea to throw into the Next Steps mix is one that we introduced in Devon this year for our Annual Road Safety Statistics Report. The report - which represents a significant body of work for our analyst and out of which comes a whole series of other work on routes; at-risk groups and other themes of interest - was submitted to a local university's School of Mathematics and Statistics for quality checking. This independent feedback acted as both endorsement for our current methodologies and a guide for future improvement – a practical example of support which I hope will have also led to a strong sense of professional satisfaction on the part of the author for a job well done.

You know who you are - thank you, and consider your mid year appraisal nailed!
Jeremy, Devon

Agree (14) | Disagree (0)

It's great to see this work being done. I notice on p9 that the area most analysts (60%) would like training in includes regression to the mean (RTM). The evaluation of selection effects (RTM) is why I became involved in road safety in the first place and is an area where I could offer assistance. I would be willing to put together a presentation on what RTM is, why it occurs, and how to measure and exclude it's effect, if required. Please let me know of further developments, training, conferences etc.
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (13) | Disagree (6)