With more vehicles on the roads, we’re seeing an increase in the number of road accidents. Things can be made a lot safer with the correct use of data though, and VIA, a Dutch company and HERE partner, has been developing software to make it easier to understand traffic conditions.
Erik Donkers, CEO of VIA, explains: “Data can help us to better understand what’s happening on the roads, helping us prevent a greater number of accidents. This approach can also help authorities to manage the increase in traffic more efficiently, and can help the Netherlands to maintain its place in the top five countries when it comes to road safety.”
Traffic engineering company VIA has over 30 years of experience working with road authorities such as municipalities and police forces, and previous experience of advising customers on road safety led to the company developing software that could better monitor road accident trends.
“Road authorities need a professional and complete insight into road safety,” adds Erik. “They might want to list the intersections with the most crashes, for example, or the data that includes the involvement of cyclists.”
Providing information with a little help from HERE
VIA can help to provide this information and create a clearer picture of what’s happening on the roads, thanks to its partnership with HERE. Erik adds:
“Many modern cars have GPS, and we can use HERE Traffic Analytics to uncover speed data from a large number of cars. It’s this data that we use in our software, and it enables us to create analytical maps for municipalities and other organisations.”
These maps can let road authorities identify roads that are more congested and more liable to high noise levels or emissions. The maps are also used by municipalities when creating traffic and transport policies, and Erik tells us: “There are currently loads of data points to measure traffic throughout the Netherlands, but our method of collecting data is a lot cheaper, simpler and capable of monitoring what’s happening every 15 minutes.”
Collecting data from accidents
With so much information on hand, and data covering a mountain of different situations, it’s possible for organisations and authorities to look into the possibilities of other solutions, learning lessons from what’s happening on the roads.
“The map data quickly highlights the types of accidents that occur and trends that stand out, and reveals the measures that are required to avoid accidents,” adds Erik. “For example, we can see that a different type of traffic light could be used when there are incidents with cars struggling to turn right because of cyclists that are riding in straight lines.”
Because data is also available over longer timespans, smart mobility measures are also options. “We can see how journey times and traffic flow changes on particular routes over a period of time, and we can also see the consequences of delays that occur in surrounding areas.”
It’s not just local authorities that have access to data from VIA, and Erik adds that the police also benefit from the information. “We can monitor where the speed limit is exceeded and where accidents are more common, and this can allow enforcement to be more targeted.”
Working with insurers
VIA also works with the Association of Insurers in STAR (Smart Traffic Accident Reporting) to monitor and register accidents. STAR and VIA worked together to develop an app which replaces the European Accident Statement.
Thanks to the partnership, motorists can now fill in all accident information using the app, with information reaching insurers almost instantly. The partnership also means that VIA has access to the data, and Erik explains:
“This is called Crowd Data Collection, and it means we can gather information about the exact location of the accident, the date and time, who was involved and the reasons the accident occurred. It means accidents can be compared with other accidents and we can gather more information. That information comes back to benefit road safety, and it means we have a better idea of what’s happened in any location.”
This is just the beginning, though, with VIA working to develop more advanced software that can further help prevent accidents.
“Our software is not only providing information, but also helping to guide and advise customers. At the end of the year, we provide municipalities with fully automated reporting, and it can help to explain where the problems are when it comes to traffic. Groups can be better informed, and our goal is to register at least half of the 400,000 traffic accidents that happen every year in the Netherlands. When we have a better understanding of speed, we can prioritise what’s going on with traffic and take appropriate measures to make the roads safer.”