KSIs connected to vehicle breakdowns

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    Julie Finn

    I have been asked by our Transport Coordination Team whether there are any stats available, in connection to KSI’s specifically connected to vehicle breakdowns? Many thanks.

    Andrew Fraser

    Hello, Julie.

    I doubt it. The main source of road traffic accident data is the STATS19 system. If you have a look at the form and guidance provided here:


    … you might find that the only possibility of a direct link to RTAs involving a broken down vehicle is the Contributory Factor 999 – if the recording officer chose to use it.

    I should say that the STATS19 form laves a lot to be desired, as the people involved in its maintenance have not (in my experience) been skilled in the science of data collection – and the worst aspect is that insisted upon by the police, namely, the entirely mutable “contributory factors”. But it’s all we’ve got.

    It is possible, I would imagine, to get an answer to your question, by going through the textual information to which local authorities usually have access, but I suspect that the result would be patchy, to say the least.

    Maybe someone else can come up with a better answer – after all, it’s now a long time since police data crossed my desk … 🙂


    Kate Carpenter

    fully agree with Andrew fraser’s observations on limitations of STATS19: it’s an imperfect tool, only covers injury collsions, and there is no real data on damage only collisions – which are considered to outnumber injury incidents by maybe 10 to 1.

    there’s a lot of data around breakdowns for motorways because it underpins the massive scale of risk analysis of over 100 motorway hazards on all motorways – of which live lane stop (peak) and live lane stop (off peak) are just two. the analysis has only been done to extreme detail level for smart motorway sections (implemented or planned and deferred) but it’s likely that the relative proportions of breakdowns versus discretionary stop proportions apply everywhere.

    it’s therefore also vital to understand that discretionary stops out-number breakdowns many times over even on high speed roads. For example, in Smart Motorway emergency areas (the new orange laybys for emergencies only), 74% of stops are illegal discretionary stops i.e. three illegal stops for each legal stop for breakdown (or ill driver or stop following a minor collision). things we see people do in those stops: dog walking; baby-changing; fag break; loo stop; phone call; waiting for freinds to catch up; getting things out of the boot etc. we also know that cars can ‘limp’ much further than we might imagine; this was only discovered by analysing the frequency of emeergency area laybys and live lane stop frequency. you’d expect more laybys = fewer live lane stops, but surprisingly that is *not* the case, it’s pretty random. it seems a stop is largely either:
    1. catastrophic and cannot limp at all (not EVs do this more than ICE vehicles: no power, often means wheels stop turning, so it will get worse over time.)
    2. less catastrophic and can limp to alayby whether 500m or 1500m away

    data are not collected in the same way for all purpose trunk roads because there is no technology to detect them and most are not reported by drivers or others; lack of traffic officers on those roads means not seen by them generally, they’ve been reassinged mainly to motorway sites (which ironcially have far fewer colllisions than APTR). people stuck on APTR phone breakdown provider and/or friends and family and the highway authority has no record of the event. There is almost no data at all on local roads that don’t have the same control centre operations as motorway/APTR network (Ntional Highways in England and devolved assembly networks in wales/scotland).

    overall this means we know little about breakdowns on local roads, and have to use first-principle approach to risk management. searching STATS19 for various key words ‘breakdown; stop; strand; stuck; ill) and the contributory factors (even less reliably used) is all you can do I think. this is why you should always get full data including written free-text fields for location and circumstances, not just rely on coded fields.

    Andy Garden

    Hi Julie,
    Bit late to the party, but as others say, Stats 19 has a value but not a value to everyone’s needs.
    For your specific category, stopped, parked could also be included as a Stat, needing some real deep search if the individual incidents.
    Are you prepared to pay for the info or for someone to do the search.
    I don’t see this level of data being open and freely available

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