One of the key principles of Vision Zero is learning from failure. In order to draw valuable conclusions and reduce the number of avoidable deaths, it is essential to have good timely granular data and have the willingness to analyse it.
In November 2016, the Metropolitan Police introduced a new input database for collision data. It seems that they did not ask themselves “What is this data for? What social good can we or others extract from it?” They certainly did not have any leadership from Transport for London, which, in spite of Khan’s stated intention of “leading the most transparent, engaged and accessible administration London has ever seen” see collision data as a dangerous weapon if it falls in public hands. In spite of continuous requests for the past four years, TfL refuses to publish a real-time database of KSIs of vulnerable road users on London streets. If we can do it, why can’t the organisation tasked to oversee the safety of citizens on London streets do it?
The consequences of the introduction of the new database have been pretty bad:
- For the past two years, the Metropolitan Police has been unable to meet the June deadline for reporting the previous year’s collision data, thus delaying by several months the release of national statistics
- London Borough engineers have noticed a reduction in data and data quality in respect to collision information sent to them via Transport for London.
“It seems that previously the Met had a designated team who would process collision data but it has now been disbanded and police officers are recording their own collision records electronically via COPA, the Case Overview and Preparation Application.”
Frost says boroughs are now receiving records “with no description of how the collision occurred”.
“This makes it near-on impossible to identify patterns in the collision data or within clusters of collisions. Poor data quality is impacting on the level of analysis boroughs can undertake, making it harder to prioritise and plan our programmes, or to design effective remedial measures.
“Also, because the data is very delayed it is affecting reporting of annual and quarterly targets in a timely manner.”
Frost says injury severity reporting has also changed. “The criteria for severity categorisation has been altered in such a way that more collisions than in previous years are now being classed as a serious injury where before they would have been recorded as slight injury. This means, going forward, producing meaningful data comparisons with previous years and the tracking of year-on-year trends will be extremely difficult.”
Vision Zero or Zero Vision?