Channel 4 has commissioned Blink Films to deliver Pile-Up (working title), a ground-breaking feature-length event documentary recreating a motorway pile-up, to examine what happens to the multiple vehicles and their occupants second-by-second.

The past 80 years of car-crash tests leading to current regulations and vehicle safety designs have largely been based on small-scale or individual simulations. Until now, scientists have been unable to analyse what happens in a crash involving multiple vehicles in a real-life pile-up.

As a result, there is little concrete evidence as to which cars are safest in a high speed, multi-vehicle smash; how occupants should react to stay safe, and why some people are able to walk away unscathed while others lose their lives.

Now, in a world first for Channel 4, Blink Films is intentionally triggering, filming and scientifically analysing a multi-vehicle motorway pile-up involving lorries, vans, and different types and sizes of cars. Using advanced remote control driving technology and dozens of specialist cameras and mannequins, the production team and experts from Cranfield University Advanced Vehicle Engineering Centre, Britain’s leading transport research university will work with everyday vehicles and everyday drivers to create a full-scale, high-speed pile-up, then investigate it in forensic detail.

The experiment will attempt to reveal the answers to questions such as what actually happens second-by-second in a real-life motorway pile-up; how different drivers actually behave in this situation; how successful safety and next generation automated systems are at protecting drivers; and what types of vehicles protect drivers best.

Dan Chambers, Executive Producer and Creative Director, Blink Films says: “Pile-Up (w/t) will be the largest road traffic experiment ever staged anywhere in the world. Not only will it be an incredible television event, more importantly it provides a once-in-a-lifetime chance to unravel the science of deadly motorway crashes.”

Danny Horan, Head of Factual adds: “This gripping and dramatic television event is a world first – a meticulously planned and staged experiment that will use the most innovative technology available to examine what really happens in a multi vehicle pile-up. This spectacular TV documentary will give us a detailed breakdown of what happens in those seconds before and after a collision, allowing Channel 4 viewers a unique perspective and never-before-seen detail.”

Pile-Up (working title) is a Blink Films (A Tin Roof Company) production for Channel 4. The Executive Producer is Dan Chambers. It is being distributed by PBS International.

Jon Creamer

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