Dutch ambulances now safer on the road

28 March 2022

The Dutch ambulance sector is the first emergency service to connect to Talking Traffic services nationwide. Thanks to Talking Traffic, ambulances on their way to an emergency (i.e. with siren blaring and lights flashing) will from now on always be "connected" and therefore "digitally visible". Smart traffic lights can give ambulances a green light and therefore a safe passage when they cross over an intersection. Other road users are warned in good time that an ambulance is approaching so that they can react accordingly. This helps increase road safety for other road users, the ambulance crew and the patient on board.

At the end of October 2020, the members of the Dutch ambulance sector association Ambulancezorg Nederland (AZN) decided that all ambulance regions would connect to Talking Traffic via the sector's national IT systems. Road safety is the main driver for this initiative. Victor Verrijp, chair of the board committee Innovation & ICT, at AZN: "The fact that Talking Traffic can significantly improve safety for all road users is sufficient motivation for us. By following the route of the ambulance, it can in the long run also prevent delays for reasons such as bridges being opened and bollards being moved".

Wide-scale introduction

The wide-scale introduction of Talking Traffic for all emergency and rescue vehicles in the Netherlands has long been under consideration. After all, recent figures show that at least once a week an emergency vehicle forced to drive through a red light on its way to an emergency is involved in an accident, sometimes with serious consequences. This issue has for some time been the subject of discussion with the Dutch Institute for Safety (IFV) to which the fire service, police and defence are also affiliated. "Having intelligent traffic control prioritise specific target groups is one of the examples of what is possible with Talking Traffic," says Vincent Habers, spokesperson for the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. In addition to emergency and rescue services, this is also possible, for example, for public transport and heavy goods traffic. "The wide-scale use of Talking Traffic is of course given a considerable boost by the AZN decision, which we are very pleased about", Habers continues. "And of course we hope that the fire service, police and defence will be following suit in the near future. We are seeing intelligent traffic lights in more and more places in the Netherlands (over 700 intelligent traffic lights connected, spread across the country as at the beginning of December 2020 and the number is growing steadily), making it possible to give priority in this way. We see the positive effects of this in daily practice. Ambulances can now cross an intersection with the lights at green rather than red and other road users are warned of an approaching emergency service, so that they can take appropriate measures".

Effective cooperation

Koos Reumer, director of AZN: "The ambulance sector is the first Dutch emergency service to establish a link with Talking Traffic nationwide. We are proud that we can put in place developments like this on such a large scale so quickly. This is mainly due to the effective cooperation between all the regional ambulance services (RAVs) that work continuously in an association (AZN) to improve and innovate our own sectoral IT infrastructure. It is great to see that it is once again bearing fruit." Be-Mobile, international provider of mobility related information services, has been commissioned by AZN to create the link with Talking Traffic in the first quarter of the new year.