If you work together with external partners, list the most important partners and briefly describe their role.
Veilig Verkeer Nederland: Veilig Verkeer Nederland (VVN) (Road Safety Netherlands) is the leading societal organisation that has been working - for over 80 years - on road safety in the Netherlands. Everyone participates in road traffic in some form and every single one of us benefits from road safety. VVN aspires to motivate as many people and organisations as possible and to actively stimulate and involve them in road safety. WegWijsVR has been developed together with the VVN’s road safety specialists and with the road safety education methodology of the VVN as its foundation.
SWOV (Stichting Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Verkeersveiligheid) is the Dutch Foundation for Scientific Research into Road Safety and is the national scientific institute for road safety research. SWOV’s mission is to contribute to safer road traffic conditions by contributing to scientific research and it has tested the effectiveness of WegWijsVR.
What problem did you address/are you addressing?
• The number of casualties of children aged 4 to 15 had risen by 9% between 2014 and 2017.
• Every year we observe a spike in traffic casualties of children going back to school after the summer holiday (risk monitor 2016 insurers’ association).
• 88% of the total number of road traffic accidents amongst children going to school occur when they are cycling either to and from school.
Research by Interpolis and the Foundation for Scientific Research into Road Safety (SWOV) shows that children are increasingly participating in traffic independently and that most children have insufficient road safety skills and knowledge at the time when they start going to school independently, either by walking or cycling.
What are your objectives?
An innovative road safety training programme for primary school students with the goal of training children to be properly prepared to participate in road traffic
Describe the characteristics of your target audience
The moment that children make the transition from primary to secondary education, the travelling distance increases from an average of 700 meters for attending primary school to an average of 2.4 km when attending secondary school. This longer distance is coupled with an increase in more complex road traffic situations.
Road safety education for children is vital if we want them to participate safely in everyday road traffic situations. Formal education at schools is important, but even more so is the continuous education provided by parents. When it comes to learning new skills, children are essentially different from adults. At a young age, a number of vital skills for safe road traffic participation, such as visual perception and cognition, are still developing. For road safety education, this has the following consequences:
• Learning is ‘domain specific’. This means that any information learnt by a child can only be put into practice once some actual exercises have been performed (SWOV 2015).
What makes WegWijsVR unique is that children can practise in, what is for them, a familiar school environment as 1.5 km of the surrounding school area has been mapped virtually in 3D. In this way, the situations that they will encounter will be familiar when they occur in the ‘real world’.
• Teaching children to be safe on the road takes a lot of time. Even relatively simple tasks, such as cycling, requires almost daily training. It is therefore vital that, more than it is currently the case, parents and guardians are aware of the necessity of educating their children about road safety (SWOV 2015).
WegWijsVR provides teachers and parents with insight into the road safety competency levels of a child. This allows road safety courses to be adjusted to individual learning needs. In addition, WegWijsVR encourages parental participation as it provides parents with an insight into the road safety competency levels of their own children. Thanks to WegWijsVR, children can now practise both at school and at home in the same environment.
Is there a plan for continuing these activities in the coming years?
Yes, there is a implementation plan to reach the ambition of Interpolis and Veilig Verkeer Nederland that WegWijsVR is available for all primary school students in the Netherlands.
How did you disseminate/are you disseminating results or how did you promote/are you promoting your initiative?
It is the ambition of Interpolis and Veilig Verkeer Nederland that WegWijsVR is available for all primary school students in the Netherlands. WegWijsVR is rolled out by the provinces and local municipalities.
In addition, mass-media campaigns have been set up to draw the attention of target groups to the problem of increasing numbers of casualties of under school-aged children and the importance of properly preparing children to safely take part in actual road traffic situations.
How did you evaluate/are you evaluating the success of your action?
In order to test the effectiveness of WegWijsVR, the SWOV was commissioned by Interpolis to conduct a first scientific experiment among primary school students in the Netherlands.
Based on the recommendations that followed from this study, WegWijsVR has been adjusted and improved. A second effectiveness study was conducted at the beginning of 2018. In it, SWOV investigated whether (virtual) training of road traffic situations with WegWijsVR significantly improved the knowledge and insight, skills, attitude, and awareness of its users in the context of road safety. The experiment was conducted among more than 400 primary school students (groups 5 to 8, ages 8 to 12).
This study showed that the road safety competencies of children that used WegWijsVR significantly improved. Children that practised with WegWijsVR tested significantly better and safer at performing road traffic tasks compared to the control group.
In the experiment’s pre-test, only 16% of the road traffic situations were, on average, performed safely. Furthermore, not a single child managed to complete all of the tasks successfully in the pre-test. In the experiment itself, all the children were trained with WegWijsVR for 20 minutes a week for 6 weeks. The post-test results saw an increase of safely performed road traffic tasks to 49%.
The results also show a significant increase in both the basic and more complex road safety skills.
Skills Pre-test Post-test
Awareness of other road users 72% 89%
Crossing the road safely 69% 89%
Awareness of traffic signs 96% 97%
Viewing behaviour right 54% 80%
Viewing behaviour left 44% 80%
Viewing behaviour over shoulder 35% 73%
This makes WegWijsVR the first road safety training programme in the Netherlands that has been tested on behavioural effects within a virtual environment and that has demonstrated the positive results of such training (SWOV: Twisk, Vlakveld & Commandeur 2006; Twisk et al 2014).
In addition, we can see that children and parents are enthusiastic about WegWijsVR:
• Children grade WegWijsVR with an average score of 8
• 80% of children experience WegWijsVR as instructive and fun
• 64% of the parents experienced WegWijsVR as being instructive
Who carried/carries out the evaluation activities?
Name of the external evaluator
SWOV (Stichting wetenschappelijk onderzeok verkeersveiligheid)
When did/will you carry out the evaluation?
Before and after the intervention
Please list the indicators you use to measure success
road safety competencies, traffic skills
Please describe the evaluation tools you use (i.e. surveys, interviews, focus groups, etc.)
surveys, experimental design