Motoring experts have called for a fundamental review of the way road accidents are investigated.
The RAC Foundation said that future road deaths might be prevented by setting up a road accident investigation branch.
It pointed out that over the past 11 years, 337 people died in UK air accidents, 114 were killed in train crashes and 53 people died in UK territorial waters or on UK-registered ships.
The deaths also led to the launch of investigations by air, rail and marine accident investigation branches.
But despite as many as 36,781 people having died on the roads during the same period, there is no similar body to investigate road collisions.
The foundation's director, Professor Stephen Glaister, said: "Historically, road accidents are analysed by individual police forces with the emphasis placed on finding out if anyone has broken the law. Identifying the underlying causes of crashes seems to be of secondary importance.
"We've been locking up drivers for a century and yet motorists still die in their thousands on the roads each year. The focus on solely penalising individuals rather than also identifying systemic safety failings is a serious flaw in current transport policy. Road safety should be driven by prevention as well as punishment."
Copyright © Press Association 2009