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Flanders will deploy drones to help reduce road deaths

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A new plan introducing drones to Belgium’s road network in an attempt to reduce the number of road deaths will soon be announced by Flemish mobility minister Lydia Peeters.

The plan, titled ‘Mobility Innovative Approach’ (MIA), is intended to do something about the number of road deaths in the region, which in 2020 reached a total of 484.

Those are shocking numbers. We are doing really badly,” she said in an interview with De Zondag newspaper. I had the policy audited when I became a minister. Many errors have been identified.” Those include, she said, roads that are repaired too slowly; unsafe cycle paths for which no-one takes responsibility; a lack of enforcement of the rules.

All of those speed controls that don’t work – how is that possible? I kept complaining until they were all connected to the network. Those are all sore points we need to address. Driving behaviour also plays a role.”

And that will be one of the first tasks for the drones: to study driving behaviour.

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We want to investigate how drivers behave at certain traffic points. That should prevent new dangerous spots, the so-called black spots, from developing,” she said.

The first two projects will be in Limburg (where the minister is from) in mid-April, followed by West Flanders in mid-May.

As far as privacy issues are concerned, she sees no immediate problem, she said.

We’re not interested in who is in the car, or what they are doing. We want to investigate the behaviour of drivers in certain situations. That will prevent accidents.”

Her ultimate aim: to change the way people think about driving and about accidents.

“I want to set a new trend. We have to act faster, work better together and improve enforcement: these will be my three spearheads. Besides education, of course. That remains important.”

And the target of zero road deaths by 2050 – is that attainable?

“Europe wants that. That is too late for me. I want to achieve that goal earlier,” she said. “More than anything I want to work faster. No more palaver. I am the impatient type.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times