New Zealand’s Fatal Crash investigation process is inconsistent and not always aligned to the Safe System approach. Generally it is overfocusing on operational deficiencies and not capturing failures in the transport system that could save lives.
Nearly every day, a fatal crash occurs on New Zealand’s roads. For these fatal crashes, many Road controlling authorities (RCAs) undertake investigations, often alongside the New Zealand police serious crash unit. Going beyond what is captured in Crash Analysis System (CAS), these investigations delve into why the crash occurred and what the crash’s environmental and road user contributing factors were. Ultimately, the investigations develop site specific and network wide safety implementations, targeted at reducing future high severity crashes where the incident occurred.
The problem is nationally, many fatal crash reports are not aligned to the Safe System; moreover, until now, the findings from these fatal crash reports weren’t aggregated across reports. Vital fatal crash trends aren’t captured and potential safety improvements, which would address these trends, are overlooked. Tracking and managing these fatal crash reports and their associated recommendations, whilst being critical, are a difficult undertaking; opening RCAs to the risk of fatal crash reports and recommendations not being completed in a timely manner.
Abley has been supporting Auckland Transport with its Safe System-aligned fatal crash reporting process, utilising a gap analysis methodology. This work includes developing a fatal crash reporting interface and management system, covering the system’s fatal crash trend analysis, automated report generation, and report tracking capabilities. This shifts the approach from reacting to fatal crashes as they occur, and instead, looks at gaps from the Safe System that allow fatal crashes to occur across the network. This helps users make network wide decisions to reduce these gaps and iterate towards a Safe System, often through mass action programs dealing with common factors.
We believe the reporting interface and management system has national potential to revolutionise New Zealand’s Fatal Crash reporting and help put us on track to zero!