Plans to regulate UAE traffic accident investigators welcomed by experts

ABU DHABI // The UAE has taken another step towards regulating and certificating traffic accident investigators, a move that has been welcomed by experts. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, announced plans to license traffic accident experts. “Anything that improves the thoroughness and quality of the investigations is to be […]

ABU DHABI // The UAE has taken another step towards regulating and certificating traffic accident investigators, a move that has been welcomed by experts.

Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, announced plans to license traffic accident experts.

“Anything that improves the thoroughness and quality of the investigations is to be welcomed,” said Phil Clarke, a principal road safety consultant at UK consultancy Transport Research Laboratory UAE.

“This is a great opportunity for the police to improve the quality of accident investigations for the more serious or fatal cases, and to use the investigations to shape traffic safety in the future throughout the UAE.”

Setting minimum qualifications and standards and an accreditation process should be in place, said Mr Clarke, a former senior UK police officer and an accredited senior investigating officer for road death investigations.

A forensic collision investigator helps establish the cause by examining the physical evidence on the scene.

If investigations are thorough, they can uncover any shortcomings in vehicle and infrastructure standards and driver behaviour.

“These people need to be properly qualified to do it, otherwise it’s not going to add value,” Mr Clarke said. “Appropriate standards should be met and maintained. Re-accreditation is important to maintain the standard, and to keep their skills and knowledge up to date.”

Transport expert Glenn Havinoviski said such licensing would professionalise the investigation process.

“However, this certification process needs to be clearly defined and developed, based on certain criteria,” he said.

“Certification must be based on specific training courses and tests that address forensic investigation of road collision sites. Programmes in the US, UK and Australia offer such coursework.”

All qualifications in Britain required formal assessment and practical exams, Mr Clarke said.

“If you go on a collision investigation course in the UK, you’re going to be tested quite rigorously,” he said. “You’ll need to work within a team, under a senior collision investigator who will mentor you and generally develop your skills.”

For most countries, the competing priorities of the police and other agencies regarding road accidents is of concern.

Once they have helped accident casualties, the police’s priority should be the investigation. However, the road authority’s priority is to reopen the road to keep the traffic moving.

“You might as well have highly qualified people capable of doing a thorough investigation. But if they are not afforded the time to do the job properly and effectively, that process is devalued,” Mr Clarke said. “It’s very time-consuming and requires a lot of dedication and practice.”

A full-forensic investigation on a trivial incident would not cause a massive disruption, he said.

rruiz@thenational.ae

Source: uae news

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