Transport Research Laboratory (TRL)

Accident Research



The number of people killed on the world’s roads is forecast to rise to approximately two million per year by 2020. Road traffic injuries represent a significant public health problem, and accident research identifies and quantifies their causes and consequences.

TRL is a pioneering organisation in the development of accident research studies. With over 50 years’ experience in this area, we continue to significantly contribute to the international scientific disciplines of accident and injury prevention.

TRL undertakes cost-benefit evaluations based on accident research data to evaluate collision avoidance and injury mitigation technologies and standards.

In 2013, an estimated 50 million people were injured on the road - many of whom were left disabled for life. Over 90% of these casualties occur in developing countries, where the economic impact is over $100 billion. TRL is a proud supporter of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety, undertaking accident research to help reduce loss of life and injury on the roads.

The challenges associated with reducing road casualties are complex, and road engineering standards, driving rules and regulations and enforcement systems vary considerably all over the world. Accident research is used to improve driving standards, roads and vehicles and techniques are evolving to ensure that countermeasures are future-proofed.

For most road safety problems, accident research is the first step towards solution.  The data we use provides information on the number and type of road user casualties, highlighting the factors which have led to crashes and injuries.

TRL continues to develop accident investigation procedures and protocols, and as new techniques and technologies are established these are used by crash reconstruction experts to better understand  the factors behind crashes and injuries.  In recent years, TRL have pioneered many techniques, including:

  • Laser scanning technology as a tool to capture three-dimensional accident scene information
  • Gathering data from Event Data Recorders (EDRs) or so called 'black-boxes' in vehicles, which record valuable information about the action and movement of the vehicle prior to and during the collision.

As countermeasures are developed, injury patterns resulting from road crashes also change. TRL undertakes multi-disciplinary research, a key outcome of which is the identification of common injury mechanisms. These findings can then be used to inform health professionals as to the likely injuries to expect from road collisions.


TRL has significant experience designing and building in-depth relational accident databases, safely and securely capturing and storing evidence of:

  • Vehicle engineering and technologies
  • Environmental and highway engineering
  • Human behaviour

Our databases can hold images, video and other reconstruction media. The user interface is designed to maximise consistency and quality, and to provide a data analyser for analysts.

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