02 January 2024, by Simone Jacobs
There has been a sharp increase in the number of serious injuries and fatalities due to road traffic accidents in the Netherlands. Based on the most recent figures available for road safety, in 2022 the country recorded 8.300 serious road injuries and 745 road deaths, an increase of more than 20 percent compared to 2021. According to the Institute for Road Safety Research (SWOV), these numbers will likely continue to rise in the coming years.
Sharp increase in number of serious injuries and fatalities on Dutch roads
Earlier in 2023, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reported the highest number of road fatalities since 2008 and the most recent figures from SWOV are higher than that with 745 road deaths. SWOV reported that 8.300 people were seriously injured in traffic accidents in 2022, a much higher number compared with the 6.800 serious injuries from 2021.
Cyclists were the largest group affected by road accidents in the Netherlands, with 70 percent of people who were seriously injured and 39 percent of those who died having been cyclists. More than half of all traffic accidents were among people over the age of 60.
Road adjustments needed to prevent further increases
The number of serious road injuries and deaths has been increasing by about 4 percent per year, except for 2020 and 2021 when the Netherlands saw a slight decrease due to COVID-19. If the upward trend up to and including 2019 had continued during the years of the coronavirus pandemic, the increase seen in 2022 is higher than expected and SWOV does not foresee an improvement for future figures. These predictions are based on ageing and mobility developments of the population.
Without additional measures, the number of deaths can be expected to stabilise towards 2040, while the number of serious injuries has the potential to double. More than a quarter of traffic fatalities have occurred on roads with a maximum speed of 50 kilometres per hour, but the number of deaths on roads with a speed limit of 30 kilometres per hour has also been increasing.
Changing the speed limit on roads from 50 km/h to 30km/h, as Amsterdam has done recently, is only the beginning of the solution to reducing traffic accidents. “It must also be made physically impossible for [people] to drive fast, for example through speed bumps,” explained an SWOV spokesperson to NOS.
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