In the Netherlands, over a third of road deaths and well over two thirds of serious road injuries are cyclists. Cyclist fatality risk (the number of road deaths per distance travelled) is more than eight times higher than fatality risk for drivers, but over three times as low as that for motorised two-wheelers.
Every year, about 140 fatal 'run-off-road crashes' involving motor vehicles (excluding two-wheelers) are registered in the Netherlands: they result in around 160 road deaths, more than a quarter of the total number of road deaths.
In 2020, over a quarter of the total number of bicycle kilometres were cycled on pedelecs; particularly the over-65s opt for pedelecs. This is also borne out by the crash figures: in 2019 and 2020, almost one in three of the cyclist fatalities was a pedelec rider.
Traffic congestion occurs when traffic demand exceeds road capacity, or when an incident such as a traffic crash, a vehicle breakdown occurs or temporary roadworks take place, all of which temporarily reduce capacity and restrict traffic flow. Congestion crashes mainly occur at the tail end of a traffic jam. There, the speed of the traffic flow decreases sharply, which coincides with frequent and hard braking, and with a high risk of rear-end crashes.
About one third of the road deaths on Dutch roads occur at intersections. Within the urban area, this amounts to half and outside the urban area to slightly less than a quarter of the road deaths. A roundabout is the safest kind of intersection, because there are fewer conflict zones, because speed is lower, and impact angles are smaller than at a conventional intersection.
This fact sheet describes the road safety aspects of public transport and of level crossings – places where road and rail networks intersect. Public transport vehicles comprise buses, trams, light rail vehicles and trains. This fact sheet relates to road casualties involving a public transport vehicle: suicide and casualties caused by a lack of social safety (violence in public transport) are not discussed. Apart from public transport and level crossings, the road safety of taxis is also addressed.
In the Netherlands, on average, more than 50 people die every year in a submerged vehicle crash. More than two thirds die from drowning. The casualties are mainly car occupants, while cyclist and mobility scooter fatalities are also numerous. Casualties are mostly male and aged 18-24. Despite the large number of casualties, not much is known about possible causes of crashes in which vehicles end up in the water. Foreign studies show that alcohol and drug use, and/or speeding are often involved.
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.
Sustainable Road Safety implies that the traffic environment is designed to rule out serious crashes and to mitigate the severity of the crashes that do happen. The human dimension is the primary focus: man who is vulnerable, makes mistakes and does not abide by the rules. The road environment, vehicles and technology are to offer support and protection in order to make the safety of the traffic system as little dependent on individual actions as possible. Traffic professionals and central government ensure that these conditions are always met and that imperfections are corrected.