It’s 2001. Rob van de Moosdijk is an eyewitness to an accident in which a school pupil is killed. The truck driver fails to see 10-year-old Wouter who is in his blind spot. He resolves to find a solution to improve road safety in the blind spot area. Development is a costly process but Rob succeeds in launching the Lisa2Alert system (Lisa is short for Life Saver) on the market.
Lisa2Alert Blind Spot Assist
Lisa2Alert is a warning system for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. The system uses flashing lights and an audible signal to give an alert if a truck turns right below a certain speed.
Up to that point, Rob was not yet aware of the morass of legislation and the bureaucracy that he would come up against. Surprisingly, his invention was not met with praise but rather with resistance. To date, the warning system has not been made compulsory, even though the business community and a number of authorities (including the Municipality of Amsterdam) have been installing the system on their vehicles for years.
In 2007, the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management carried out a study on blind spot systems; Lisa2Alert was found to be the most effective. The reaction from TU Delft was also positive. Cyclists were found to react more often and quicker to trucks that were fitted with Lisa2Alert. The system also reduces damage by up to 85% because drivers are more alert. In spite of this, the system has still not been made compulsory.
I still remember us talking to Rob who was looking for a partner to take on the fight against blind spot accidents with him. Rob was able to demonstrate the effectiveness of his invention based on independent studies. No matter how simple the principle of the Lisa2Alert system was, it worked. The driver is more alert and the vulnerable fellow road user appears to understand the warning given by the flashing lights in conjunction with an audible signal.
“How hard can it be?”
That is what I thought at the time: “We’ll hit people with a marketing campaign and sell this great solution. If we show the world that the risk of tragic accidents can easily be reduced, the government will join us of its own accord.”
Lisa2Alert as standard equipment
However now, almost 17 years later, I know better. Only a handful of companies (ironically enough often (semi-)government authorities) have included Lisa2Alert as standard in their vehicle specifications. Although it has never happened in practice, they are afraid of risking a fine because an audible signal would not be allowed. Is there an alternative? No, all the existing aids focus solely on the driver, though he cannot solve the blind spot problem on his own. Lisa2Alert also warns vulnerable fellow road users such as cyclists and pedestrians.
Better safe than sorry
Together with Rob, I went to meetings full of enthusiasm in order to lobby for the system. The level of resistance we met caused my heart to sink. Baffling, as the system is proven to be effective. We decided to focus on those companies who wanted to say “better safe than sorry” to their drivers and vulnerable road users.
Isn’t it strange that the owner of a vehicle fitted with Lisa2Alert would be fined if stopped? Fortunately, the enforcers now know better and tolerate the warning system.
It’s dogged as does it: studies on Lisa2Alert
How nice that Rob recently won people over to his side. On 13 November, the House of Representatives adopted a motion – by a large majority – to study the positive effects and contribution of the Lisa2Alert system closely again. It would seem that this government, the Cycling Federation, the Institute for Road Safety Research (SWOV), etc. are finally going to embrace initiatives like Lisa2Alert. Now, more than 17 years later, will Rob finally get “the good feeling and receive recognition” for his invention helping to ensure that cyclists and pedestrians get to school safely and preventing accidents claiming dozens of victims?