Call for serious road accidents to be investigated by specialist unit

THE MOST SERIOUS road accidents in Scotland should be investigated and overseen by a specialist branch of Police Scotland.

That is the view being put forward by road safety campaigner David Stewart MSP, who has written to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson, seeking serious consideration of the proposal.

Mr Stewart, who is a Labour MSP for the Highlands and Islands constituency that includes Moray, said: “Currently Police Scotland carry out some excellent collision investigation in dealing with very difficult and distressing fatal road collisions across Scotland.

“However, the 2016 figure for total fatalities on Scottish roads shows an increase to 191 up by 14% up from 168 in 2015, so I would suggest that we need to do more than we are doing if we hope to reach the Road Safety 2020 framework target.

“We have in the UK, Rail, Air and Maritime Accident Investigation Branches, but we do not have a Road Accident Investigation Branch who could oversee the most serious of road collisions involving fatalities.

“This branch could bring closer together the efforts of Collision Researchers, Police, Procurator Fiscals, Road Agencies, Engineers and Local Authorities and highlight new technical opportunities.

“The Branch would be set up to look at serious collisions and learn and support, not replace the crucial work of the Police Collision Investigators who are currently primarily trying to satisfy themselves if there is any evidence of dangerous or careless road use to merit the prosecution of anyone for the collision.

“If set up, this Branch would not look at every collision but would focus on the most serious and those where lessons for preventing repeats seemed most likely. This is the approach of other investigation bodies and an approach which is taken in the USA and Sweden for example.

“The time has come for us to try and be that bit smarter, to use an intelligence led approach to road collision reduction and I feel and overarching body such as a Road Collision Investigation Branch is the right way to go.”