Background In Finland, all fatal road traffic accidents are investigated in-depth, on-the-spot by multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Teams (Act on the Investigation of Road and Cross-country Traffic Accidents 24/2001). The Finnish Motor Insurers’ Centre maintains the investigations. The purpose of the teams is to find out what happened in the accident, uncover risk factors that turned an ordinary driving situation into a serious accident and give safety recommendations for improving road safety. Investigation teams do not take a stand on guilt or insurance compensation.
Methods General goal of Finnish road accident investigation is to prevent accidents from happening again and reduce serious consequences by learning from accidents. Currently there are 20 independent teams across Finland. The basic team members are police, road and vehicle specialists, physician and a psychologist. Teams use a standardised investigation method called VALT Method 2003. Focus of the investigation is on pre-crash circumstances, but also the crash and post-crash stages are investigated.
Results Teams produce safety recommendations which are connected to the risk factors. According to the investigation method teams look for both immediate and background risk factors which have contributed to the accident. Risk factors and safety recommendations are sought from the road user, vehicle, environment and the traffic system. Teams produce an investigation report on each case.
Compiled investigation folders of each case contain investigation forms from each member, pre-investigation protocol, forensic documents (autopsy and toxicology), photographs, sketches etc. The collected information form an accident database.
Conclusions The findings are used for making safety proposals and initiatives, and the information is used in statements, working groups and other cooperation efforts. The data is used for safety work of the authorities, safety research, education and public awareness campaigns.
- Road Accident Investigation
- fatal road traffic accidents
- risk factors
- safety recommendations
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