Since the seventies, the safety of car occupants has greatly improved, expressed in both the number of road crash fatalities and in mortality risk. Since 2011, however, the number of road deaths among car occupants has not decreased.

In 2015, 47 motorcyclists died in traffic in the Netherlands. After 2009, when their number was approximately 1,300, it has not been possible to reliably determine the number of serious road injuries due to poor registration. In the Netherlands 1,4 million people have a motorcycle licence, but as there are 656,000 registered motorcycles, less than half own a motorcycle. These motorcyclists travel an average 1,200 to 3,400 km per year, which means that most do not really build a routine.

This fact sheet considers road safety in the Netherlands from an international perspective. The number of serious road injuries is hard to compare to numbers in other countries, so we almost exclusively focus on the number of road deaths. For the Netherlands, we use the actual number of road deaths provided by Statistics Netherlands; i.e. the numbers adjusted for underregistration. We made this choice because the number of casualties among cyclists in the Netherlands is relatively high and it is these crashes that are by no means always registered.

Moped and light-moped riders are at relatively high risk of being a crash casualty. Although there is a trend towards fewer deaths, in the Netherlands, the risk of being killed or seriously injured remains very large compared with other modes of transport. In the Netherlands, helmet use is mandatory for moped riders, but not for light-moped riders. In recent years we have seen a strong increase in the number of light mopeds (especially the scooter model is widely sold), whereas the number of mopeds has been decreasing slightly.

A bicycle helmet is intended to protect cyclists against head and brain injuries when they are involved in crashes. The helmet does not prevent bicycle crashes (see the SWOV fact sheet Cyclists for general bicycle safety measures). International research shows that in case of a crash helmeted cyclists are 60% less likely to sustain serious head/brain injuries and 70% less likely to sustain fatal head/brain injuries than cyclists not wearing a helmet.

A pedestrian fall or collision is only a road crash (pedestrian crash) when a moving vehicle is involved. Between 2010 and 2019, an annual average of 59 pedestrians were killed in road crashes. Between 1999 and 2019, the number of pedestrian road deaths dropped by 62%. Crash risk for pedestrians equals that for cyclists, while for (light) moped riders crash risk is 3 to 4 times higher, and for occupants of cars/delivery vans 7 to 8 times lower.

In the past ten years (2006-2015) an average of 11 road deaths per year in the Netherlands was registered in crashes involving agricultural vehicles. Compared to the early 1990s, the average number of road deaths due to crashes involving an agricultural vehicle increased from 1% to 2% of the total number of road deaths in the Netherlands. Agricultural vehicles are defined as agricultural and forestry tractors as well as self-propelled machinery used in farming, construction industry, civil engineering and the maintenance of public green spaces.

In 2009-2018, an annual average of 51 young drivers and passengers (aged 18-24) were killed in traffic. For young drivers, fatal crash risk is 4,5 times higher than for more experienced drivers. Crash risk is highest during the first year after acquisition of the driving licence, and subsequently decreases fast as young drivers gain more experience

It will probably take at least several decades for completely self-driving vehicles to become commercially available, if they ever will. Yet, vehicles in which part of the driving task is automated, for example automated braking, accelerating and steering, are already available.

From 2009 to 2018, an annual average of 80 road deaths were attributable to crashes with trucks and 67 road deaths to crashes with delivery vans. Casualty numbers are higher among crash opponents than among occupants of trucks or delivery vans. The fatality rate among crash opponents is higher when they crash into a truck or delivery van than when they crash into a car. The fatality rate among occupants of a truck or delivery van, however, is lower than among car occupants. Among the occupants of trucks or delivery vans, most fatalities occurred on provincial road and on national roads.