Vehicle and Operator Services Agency database system

TRL were commissioned to develop new browser and data input systems for the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) Accident Database. This Department for Transport-sponsored project handles data collected for the VOSA Accident Defects and Recall programme, and uses it to improve transport safety.

VOSA is an Executive Agency of the Department for Transport that provides an impartial service to ensure motor vehicles are maintained and operated to the road-worthiness standards laid down by law. As part of this work, VOSA are responsible for the Accident Defects and Recall programme that operates in the UK. This programme of work operates to an agreed code, against which vehicles involved in accidents are examined, and vehicle defects assessed in order to determine if any remedial action is required. The data collected is used to guide and inform researchers on DfT research projects and provide data for vehicle defect recalls to the motor industry, police, general public and other agencies.

Information collected is primarily concerned with the state of the vehicles’ tyres, axles, brakes, lights, suspension, steering and other possible system defects. Each accident case, of which there are approximately 3,000 per year, has potentially 4 stages of investigation:

  • Investigation at the scene, by the police or VOSA, jointly or independently;
  • Vehicle inspection after the collision, by a VOSA inspector;
  • Document search subsequent to the vehicle inspection, by a VOSA inspector;
  • Research input after all of the above has been collected, by a VOSA inspector.

The advantage of having data from different sources collated into one database is that it enables researchers to undertake analysis of the stored data to identify where vehicle defects may have an influence on road safety, and to understand better their specific role in the accidents. Better understanding of the role of defects in accidents will help identify the likely countermeasures needed to prevent such defects.

The new software system is dependent on a Common Reporting Format that has been ratified and accepted by DfT, VOSA and the Association of Chief Police Officers. This project is managed by TRL on behalf of DfT. Project stakeholders use the Browser to view project data, as well as quickly and easily print cases, perform complex queries and carry out simple data analyses. The associated Data Input software is used by TRL for case entry and includes a management system that allows users to create new cases and track their progress through to completion, validation and dispatch.