Thoughts on the Fatal Accident Inquiry

Published on Thursday November 30 2017

Rally safety has been reviewed after tragedy

Positivity and the Fatal Accident Inquiry, certainly haven’t gone hand-in-hand since the inquest has been ongoing. At best, rallying was getting a slap on the wrist. At worst it would be deemed too dangerous to continue.

Luckily it was the former, and on first reading, it looks like rallying can finally put this dark chapter to bed.

Lives have been lost and that must never be forgotten. But, as is always the case when lives are lost in such a tragic fashion, the events must become a lesson on how it must never happen again. That’s what the FAI was there for. Not to apportion blame. To find out how the deaths happened and if the loss of life could have been prevented.  

I had two major thoughts after the release of the FAI. At a time when rallying is often misunderstood by the masses, or the people in the ‘general’ media who bring it to them, it was very refreshing to read the words of Sheriff Maciver, who has clearly immersed himself in rallying totally.

It’s clear from reading his recommendations that he understands the facets of a rally; how they are run, and how each one can differ through alternative organisational formats. Rallying is lucky someone so understanding – or at least willing to educate himself on the topic – was assigned to this FAI.

The same can’t be said of the general media reaction to the findings of the FAI, which were poor and often one-sided to the negative, in general, to say the least.

Marshals are becoming harder to find for events. Pic: @World

The other major thought is a broader rallying worry, despite the overriding mood from the FAI being positive for the sport moving forward. 

The fact that things are being implemented to improve safety is fantastic and something we should all want to see.

My worry is who is looking out for the organisers?

A 45-mile stage rally can take a year to organise, and the people doing it – in general at least – are volunteers who have day jobs. Piling on the paper work and adding more and more to an organiser’s plate simply isn’t going to work, especially at a time when the sport is facing a volunteer, organiser and marshalling crisis. 

If the best rally to spectate on in the UK – the R.A.C. Rally – has trouble with marshals, what’s the hope for the rest?

Trust in organising rallies also needs to return. Many may fear helping on events because of the high-profile nature of the investigations into the Snowman and Jim Clark events, and that members of the organising team were called into courts because of it. 

It’s time for volunteers and organisers to come forward and suggest what can be done to help them speak up. We need more volunteers. Doubling their workload in the past two-three years isn’t helping with that.

While striving for safety is a necessity, so is organising events, or there will be no one left
to run the new super-safe events. Take heed. 

Something needs to be done. 

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