Roads in the Netherlands have become more dangerous over the last decade, according to one of the country’s leading road safety experts.
Dr Peter van der Knaap, head of the scientific institute for road safety research, SWOV, made the remarks in an interview on the Intertraffic website: “Although we were once firmly in the top three in the world, a lot still remains to be done with regards to road safety in the Netherlands. In fact, Dutch road safety has deteriorated in the last decade.”
He said that the number of road deaths in 2018 meant the country was ranked eleventh in Europe with a figure of 678 killed – an increase of 10% on 2017. The Dutch government had pledged to reduce the figure to no more than 500 by 2020.
Most striking, Knaap says, is that until 2014 the number of car occupants who died declined, but from 2015 the number increased again – and a third of them were not wearing a seatbelt.
Pedestrian deaths have also been rising. “The number of road deaths among cyclists has not substantially decreased, with the highest in 2018 of 228,” he explains.
“A traffic crash does not happen because only one thing goes wrong; it is always a combination of factors: characteristics of the road, the vehicle and the human being. The road can be slippery, the driver tired and the vehicle’s tyres can be worn out. All together this contributes to the likelihood and severity of the actual crash and injuries, possibly fatal.’
He believes improvements can be made, such as creating roadsides which are free of obstacles. obstacle-free layout of roadsides. “Traffic enforcement also needs continuous effort,” he insists. “In all these domains, innovation can help to find more cost-effective solutions.”
Knapp also points to a new challenge in the Netherlands - the use of nitrous oxide while driving. “This year alone police have noted 960 traffic incidents that involved nitrous oxide,” he adds.