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Chapter 4 - Multidisciplinary Teams

At the University of Helsinki in Finland, the team learned that all fatal crashes in the country are investigated by a multidisciplinary team that includes a police officer, vehicle engineer, traffic engineer, physician, and sometimes a psychologist. The investigation results are documented in an original folder and database with more than 300 variables using a methodology from the Finnish Motor Insurers Centre. Results can vary, depending on the composition of the team. From the examples given, it appeared that the presence or absence of a psychologist on the team could critically alter conclusions and interpretation of data. Considering all perspectives provided by a multidisciplinary team improved the overall research program.

No data were presented on the statistical reliability of this method. Since multidisciplinary crash investigation has been criticized in the United States for lacking such reliability, this caveat must be kept in mind when evaluating European results.

VALT 2003 Method

The Finnish Motor Insurers' Centre (VALT) has developed a coherent set of procedures, including detailed forms to be completed, for traffic accident investigation teams. Two points central to this methodology are (1) the analysis of risk factors, and (2) the composition and responsibilities of the accident investigation team. Two kinds of risk factors are considered. Immediate risk factors are direct, often active, factors that have had an effect in the situation. They include such items as road users' mistakes, faults in the vehicle, and geometric or traffic control device failures. Background factors, by their existence or omission, promote the origin of the event. They include such items as road-user health and motives, vehicle features and loads, road and environmental conditions, and system factors such as laws, enforcement, and road norms. The team deals with the following questions:

As already noted, a multidisciplinary team is formed for accident investigation. Some of the functions of each team member, as outlined in the VALT 2003 document, are listed below:

All Team Members
Police Member
Vehicle Specialist Member
Road Specialist Member
Physician Member
Psychologist Member

Thus, information about the accident is collected systematically. This information is evaluated from the viewpoints of team members with different training, experience, and perspectives.

VALT 2003 Method Contact Information

Professor Heikki Summala
University of Helsinki Traffic Research Unit
Siltavuorenpenger 20 D
FI-00014 University of Helsinki
Helsinki, Finland
Phone: +358 9 19 12 94 20

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Page last modified on November 7, 2014
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