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Standing Committee on Road Accident Statistics (SCRAS)

new letter added 1st November 2003

new letter from DfT added 28th November

We're still waiting to hear contributory factor information that the DfT appear to be sitting on.

Is something rotten?


 
Introduction

There is an ongoing official project to create a national standard for collection of road accident contributory factors. When the project is complete the data so gathered will be (or should be) valuable in determining the causes of road accidents. Good understanding of real causes will be very helpful in future accident prevention. So far so good.

This work is controlled by the "standing committee on road accident statistics" (SCRAS) at the DfT. Recently they have been assisted by Dr Richard Hall from the Transport Research Group at Southampton University. Dr Hall informed us that his work was completed and submitted at the end of March 2003. We have yet to see anything about what that work contained or concluded. 

This document (well worth a read) contains some interesting information:

Page 3 contains:

Fifteen police forces are currently supplying contributory factor information to DfT, using the proposed national form, on a voluntary basis.
Page 11 contains:
MODIFICATIONS TO EXISTING CODES
Move ‘excessive speed’ (contributory factor 21) up the list to make it more prominent
We are extremely concerned that there are ongoing efforts to suppress real data and also to twist future data to better fit false conceptions.
From an official email dated 1st July and forwarded to us:
"The structure of the new Causation section of the STATS19 form has now been agreed. There will no longer be Precipitating (Primary) Factors and Contributory (Secondary) Factors. Instead there will simply be a list of factors which contributed to the collision, and the reporting officer will be able to select up to six. These will then be applied to all parties involved in the collision (including uninjured pedestrians)."
A reply from Peter Wilding

I had emailed him, complaining about the lack of a reply to an earlier letter and emails...

Subject: Re: Non reply
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2003 15:31:55 +0100
From: "Peter Wilding" <Peter.Wilding@odpm.gsi.gov.uk>
To: <psmith@safespeed.org.uk>
CC: "Alan Oliver" <Alan.Oliver@dft.gsi.gov.uk>

Paul Smith

I am afraid this is the first I have seen of your letter of May 20th. I guess part of the reason is that I left DfT in April to work in a different work area in a different building in a different department.  There was no one to replace my function at DfT so some things have alas been left unattended at my original desk. I am sorry that your letter has not received the attention it should have and also that I did not pick up on your January e mail. I cannot explain the latter lapse  especially since all consultation e emails were logged in a separate file - but the 2 events have conspired to create a regrettable  delay. My apologies.

The situation that I left in April is that the review report was about 99% complete and was being prepared for publication - it has to go through clearance procedures with Ministers and the Office for National Statistics. I know it is not yet available but it cannot be that far off.

The report comes in Four parts. The second part addresses the issues of access to and presentation of data. This includes a recommendation that presentation of an analysis of the  contributory factor data already supplied by the 15 police forces on a voluntary basis should be included in RAGB.  This is clearly desirable and will be followed through by the road accident statistics branch. I cannot say whether there is a plan to include an article in this year's RAGB or whether it will be for next year.

I can only suggest that you keep in touch with Mr  Alan Oliver who is looking after the review now that I have left and will know what future plans are. I am copying this reply to him. 

When the report is finally published all four parts will be published on the Internet, but consultees will receive a hard copy of the main reports.

I hope this helps. If you need to come back to me directly a reply to this email address will get through.

Peter Wilding 
 

A reply from Dr Richard Hall

Subject: Re: Contributory Factors
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2003 17:01:36 +0100
From: Richard Hall <R.D.Hall@soton.ac.uk>
To: Paul Smith <psmith@safespeed.org.uk>

Paul,

We completed our study and submitted our final report at the end of March, but I have not heard much of what has happened since then. I think Peter  Wilding is now doing other things, so I suggest you contact our Project Officer who is Sofia Marcal (Sofia.Marcal@dft.gsi.gov.uk)

Best wishes

Richard Hall

Dr Richard Hall
Transportation Research Group
Civil and Environmental Engineering Department
University of Southampton
Highfield
SOUTHAMPTON
SO17 1BJ     U.K.
Tel: +44/0 23 8059 2174
Fax: +44/0 23 8059 3152
Email: R.D.Hall@soton.ac.uk

Our new letter to Alan Oliver
 
 
           12th October 2003
Mr Alan Oliver
Standing Committee on Road Accident Statistics
Transport Statistics: Road Safety (TSR5)
Zone 2/18
Department for Transport
Great Minster House
76 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DR 

Dear Alan,

Contributory factor information

Despite previous correspondence, I have had no reply. I emailed in January and wrote in May. (Both addressed to Peter Wilding). In July I forwarded the May letter to you by email. It is not acceptable for you to ignore my correspondence.

Since the earlier correspondence my information needs have increased.
 

1. Contributory factor information already at the DfT

I refer to:

"THE 2002 QUALITY REVIEW OF ROAD ACCIDENT INJURY STATISTICS INTERIM REPORT : EXTENSION OF TIMETABLE"
from web page: http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_transstats/documents/page/dft_transstats_505640.doc

para 5.1 

... Fifteen police forces are currently supplying contributory factor information to DfT, using the proposed national form, on a voluntary basis.
We know that there are analysed results because they have been provided to Ivan Brown Associates. I refer to DfT web page:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_rdsafety/documents/page/dft_rdsafety_504574-13.hcsp

… which contains:

Following this trial the linking system was adopted on a voluntary basis by a number of police forces in England and Scotland. Data collected during 1999 by 13 forces were analysed by DTLR Road Accidents Branch (TSR5) and those of particular relevance to LBFTS errors were provided for this review.
So we know full well that you have analysed data, but are not publishing it. Why is that? When will it be published? Please provide me urgently with basic analysis of the information.
 

2. Plans for new system of contributory factor collection

I am informed that the work carried out by Dr Hall was completed in March this year. May I please see the report? What are the conclusions? When will it be published?
 

3. Plea for real data

I was amazed to find on page 11 of the first document mentioned above the following suggestion: 

MODIFICATIONS TO EXISTING CODES
Move ‘excessive speed’ (contributory factor 21) up the list to make it more prominent
I sincerely hope that attempts to influence the collection of data in this way are being robustly resisted. Obviously we all wish to get the best possible data, and preconceptions of any sort should be eliminated wherever possible. What assurances can you provide?
 

4. Uninjured pedestrians

I have been passed the following text from an email from your department dated July 2003:

The structure of the new causation section of the STATS19 form has now been agreed. There will no longer be Precipitating (Primary) Factors and Contributory (Secondary) Factors. Instead there will simply be a list of factors which contributed to the collision, and the reporting officer will be able to select up to six. These will then be applied to all parties involved in the collision (including uninjured pedestrians).
Please explain exactly the reference to “uninjured pedestrians”
 

Summary

I am extremely concerned that we have not seen existing real world accident causation data published because “someone” does not think the data fits with their ideas of accident causation.

I am extremely concerned that some people would like to influence accident causation data that will be gathered in the future to better fit their personal ideas of accident causation. In particular, there are a lot of speed obsessed people who would like to see speed as the largest accident causation factor irrespective of the real contribution of excessive speed to accident causation or severity. I am painfully aware of a great deal of dangerous misinformation in this area – some of which is official.

Please provide your stirling assurance that such distorting influences are being properly resisted. The better the data, the more useful it will be in directing road safety improvements that will save lives. Conversely, any distortions in the data will clearly misdirect road safety efforts and result in unnecessary deaths. I believe this is already happening and I feel very confident that you will not wish to be responsible for making matters worse.

I trust that you will now find the time to provide a substantial reply.

Yours sincerely
 
 
 

Paul Smith

CC:
Tim Collins MP
John Thurso MP
http://www.safespeed.org.uk/scras.html [this page]

We're formulating a reply, but are considerably relieved by some of the content of Mr Oliver's letter.

Calling for real road safety, based on truth


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Copyright © SafeSpeed 2003
Created 12/10/2003. Last update 28/11/2003
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