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.

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.

In 2021, there were 582 road deaths in the Netherlands. Although this number is again lower than in previous years, it is not the lowest number up till now, in spite of it being a ‘COVID-19 year' once more.

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.

This fact sheet discusses the development of the number of serious road injuries in the Netherlands. Internationally, serious road injuries are defined as persons having sustained injuries in a road crash, whose injuries have a maximum severity of 3 on the medical injury scale AIS (MAIS3+). In the Netherlands, the definition is slightly different: serious road injuries are persons admitted to hospital for injuries with a maximum severity of 2 or more (MAIS2+) and that have not died within 30 days after the crash.

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

If the average speed on a road increases, crash risk also increases, as does the risk of a serious outcome. This is true in general terms, but more so when motorised vehicles crash with unprotected road users, such as pedestrians, cyclists and (light) moped riders. Furthermore, speed differences between vehicles at any one time or place are related to a higher crash risk. Drivers that maintain a speed that is higher than the average speed on that road run a higher crash risk; drivers that maintain a speed that is lower than average do not.

In 2015, an estimated 12% - 23% of the road deaths in the Netherlands were due to drink driving. This then amounted to 75 to 140 fatalities. During the most recent measurements in 2019, 2.3% of the drivers were under the influence of alcohol during weekend nights, which is a considerable increase compared to the previous measurements in 2017.

Tijdens de recentste metingen, in 2022, reed 2,6% van de automobilisten tijdens weekendnachten onder invloed van alcohol, wat bijna een verdubbeling inhoudt ten opzichte van het laagst gemeten overtrederspercentage (1,4 % in 2017).

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.

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.