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How the Police Use Evidence in Road Accidents

By: Tracy Whitelaw - Updated: 14 Jan 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Traffic Accidents Road Traffic Accidents

One of the most difficult aspects of a road traffic accident for the authorities is finding out who is responsible for the collision. Knowing who was at fault can be integral to further personal injury claims that may be made in the future, so it's the role of the police to try to ascertain as quickly as possible exactly what has occurred.

There are a variety of ways in which the police are able to work out who was at fault, but mainly considering the evidence available at the scene will be enough to prove responsibility.

Simple Evidence to Prove Who is at Fault

Often officers who attend the scene of an accident will be trained and highly skilled in assessing the situation immediately. There are a variety of methods they can use to instantly get a feel for who was wrong in the collision situation. By looking at the position of the cars and any skid marks, collateral damage or in fact damage to the car itself, officers are able to get a fairly comprehensive idea about what exactly happened.

They study many crash scenes during their training and learn to develop a keen eye to look for evidence that may be crucial to their investigation. Not only will they make use of distances between cars to work out travelling speed, but they'll also rely heavily on eye-witness accounts. If there are witnesses around, the police will speak to as many as possible to try to obtain an overall view of the scene of the accident. Each witness is likely to give a slightly different variation on the scene of the accident and that's why it's crucial to obtain as many witness statements as possible.

Another simple way of finding evidence is often to use CCTV footage of the accident and with thousands of CCTV cameras in place throughout the UK, this isn't always as difficult as it may seem. Generally, the police will look at these forms of less convoluted evidence first in order to get an overall impression of what may have happened. After that, it may be up to them to investigate the evidence more deeply, or to call in the help of specialist accident investigators.

The Transport Research Laboratory and Evidence at an Accident

One of the most important accident research companies in the UK is the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL). They specialise in studying accidents to try and improve future accident evidence gathering and hopefully develop a deeper understanding of what causes them. They will often investigate what has happened at the scene of an accident and work in conjunction with the police to develop a full report on the situation.

The TRL is made up of a wide ranging group of injury experts, scientists and engineers who all work together to understand and collect evidence at the scene of an accident. The evidence is stored in a database, so that they can learn from it in future accident cases to help them fully investigate what may have occurred.

One of the most prominent groups from TRL are the On The Spot (OTS) accident data collection group. They work with the Department of Transport to investigate traffic accidents mere minutes after the police have reported them. Working in conjunction with the police, the OTS arrive at the scene to collect all the important evidence and information needed to fully investigate the scene. This information is then stored in a central database where it can be accessed in future to help other crash investigation teams.

Police Evidence After an Accident

When the police have collected a number of different forms of evidence at a crash scene, they will normally write this up into a full report and file it with the correct authorities. If you have been involved in the accident, you will be able to obtain a copy of this report as you will most likely need it for any insurance claims. You can contact the police afterwards and they will provide you with this and may even take time to explain to you how they reached their conclusions.

It may be a matter of weeks before you are able to receive a full report as they will be conducting a series of enquires and may even need forensic testing or more carried out. Once you have the report, you will be able to decide whether you're able to make a claim against another driver.

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[Add a Comment]
If someone is involved in an RTA police and ambulances attend statements taken everyone gets checked out at hospital and all are ok. Insurance claims settled but now nearly 6 months on the police want to question one of the drivers why would that be?
Shazzam - 14-Jan-17 @ 11:01 PM
Alex - Your Question:
Hi I was involved in a big rta riding a motorbike. I was knocked unconsious and cannot remember what happened. It has been claimed I ran a red light. Having contacted the police some 6 weeks later to find out what happened. Police currently not coming back to me. Insurance company are asking who is at fault. What should I do.

Our Response:
Give the insurance company the incident number (the police should have given you this) and say you cannot remember but the police will have all the relevant information to pass on them. The police may not have come back to you yet because they are still investigating/gathering evidence.
TrafficAccidentAdvice - 7-Sep-16 @ 2:17 PM
Hi i was involved in a big rta riding a motorbike. I was knocked unconsious and cannot remember what happened. It has been claimed i ran a red light. Having contacted the police some 6 weeks later to find out what happened. Police currently not coming back to me. Insurance company are asking who is at fault. What should i do.
Alex - 6-Sep-16 @ 6:01 PM
a police offier crashed into my car and call other officers,they did not mesure who drove fast I can not open a case couse there is not enough evidence,they did not want to check from the scene to where onother has stopped
Themba - 17-May-16 @ 5:06 PM
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