Road safety boosted by European cooperation

Data for Road Safety: fast data sharing saves lives

The large-scale and rapid exchange of data between road authorities, service providers and vehicles, including between competing car manufacturers, works well and is ready for large-scale roll-out on Europe's roads. This will give road safety in Europe a major boost. This is evident from the Proof of Concept for "Data For Road Safety", a partnership of Member States, service providers, etc. Infrastructure and Water Management Minister Cora Van Nieuwenhuizen: "The cooperation of several Member States with several major car manufacturers to make vehicle sensor data usable for road safety purposes is an important step forward in making progress towards zero road traffic casualties in Europe."

Messages reporting poor visibility, a broken-down vehicle, animal or person on the road, slippery road surface, accident or ghost driver are exchanged in near real time with the European Safety Service Ecosystem. This is good news for motorists driving on national, provincial or municipal roads in connected cars, who can see these reports on their navigation system or dashboard within seconds. This allows them to act faster if necessary. And that's what happens, as it turns out.

In the European "Proof of Concept" (completed between June 2019 and October 2020), cars from six different manufacturers were responsible for generating 28 million anonymised messages. These messages were collected in the Netherlands by the NDW (National Data Portal for Road Traffic) and then shared with road authorities and service providers and worked up into useful safety warnings for motorists.

Shared

Until recently, car manufacturers kept the messages to themselves, but within the "Data For Road Safety" partnership, all warnings are shared between countries, road authorities, service providers and vehicle manufacturers: the initiators believe that every European road user should be able to benefit from improved road safety. The technology has now reached a stage where new players (car manufacturers, service providers) can easily connect, according to Erik Vrijens, closely involved in the project on behalf of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management: it is now a matter of scaling up. "Many discussions are ongoing with car manufacturers and other stakeholders. They want to get involved. Interested parties can register via www.dataforroadsafety.eu.’

Driving force

Throughout the entire process from "idea" to implementation, the Netherlands has been regularly praised as an organiser and driving force. This role is now changing, according to Erik Vrijens. "The agreements and responsibilities are now clear, the technology has proved itself and the experiences with data sharing are positive. We are now entering a new phase in which we are taking a step back with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, because our role as a driving force has been fulfilled." The Netherlands is transferring the leadership of the initiative to ACEA, the umbrella organisation of vehicle manufacturers, which will continue with the same agreements. Rapid growth is plain to see: 37 percent of new cars were connected in 2020. By 2022 all new cars will be connected.

Public-private

A special feature of the European public-private initiative is that competitors, such as car manufacturers, seek each other out and help each other. Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen believes that this is necessary to achieve the higher goal of improving road safety, thereby reducing inconvenience and saving lives: "More data can contribute to road safety; that has now been proven once again. We have now fit the pieces into the technical and organisational puzzle. The European Safety Service Ecosystem is a robust system that will only continue to grow."

Partners of the Road Safety Ecosystem

National public authorities: Spain, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, Belgium, England and the Netherlands.

Service providers: HERE Europe, TomTom Traffic.

Supplier: NIRA Dynamics.

Car manufacturers: BMW, Ford, Mercedes Benz, Volvo and Scania.

For further information and a video explaining the initiative, go to www.dataforroadsafety.eu.