The introduction of a digital warning for motorists when approaching school zones in 2024 is a major advance in road safety around Dutch schools. This initiative, which stems from a successful trial period, is aimed at protecting school-age children, one of the most vulnerable groups of road users.
A school zone, defined as a specific area around a school designated by the municipality, is often a center of intensive activity, with children and parents arriving on foot, by bicycle or by car. Minister Harbers of Infrastructure and Water Management emphasizes the importance of this new technology, which uses data to make motorists alert to their surroundings, especially during the hectic moments at the start and end of the school day.
These digital warnings, which supplement physical road signs, have been tested in five Dutch municipalities of Amsterdam, Helmond, 's-Hertogenbosch, Meijerijstad and Rotterdam. Collaboration with the PO Council, the sector association for primary education, played a crucial role in this. Together they mapped the locations of 190 school zones and created a database with detailed information about school times and holidays.
During the trial period from December 2022 to June 2023, motorists received a voice message or a text warning via their (navigation) app when approaching a school zone, with a clear message to slow down. These alerts were made possible through the collaboration of various organizations, including ANWB, Be-Mobile, Tripservice, Locationnet and GeoJunxion, which shared the data via their respective travel apps.
The results of the trial are promising: surveys among 3500 users show that more than half of motorists indicate that they are more alert and adjust their driving behavior by driving slower. This positive response to the digital warnings has led to the decision to roll out the trial nationally.
In the next phase of this project, all Dutch schools will provide their data on school times, holidays and days off to the primary education council. This information is then shared with the National Road Traffic Data Portal (NDW), which is responsible for combining it with the location data of school zones. The NDW will then make this combined data accessible to all navigation apps and car manufacturers, including the logistics sector.