Traffic education is defined here as any kind of formal or informal education that is aimed at learning and improving the knowledge, insight, skills and attitudes that are necessary for safe traffic participation, including the wish to safely participate in traffic.

Public service advertising (PSA) on road safety does not seem very effective on its own. PSA campaigns mainly influence behaviour when they are combined with police enforcement and rewarding or other actions. This does not mean that PSA campaigns should not be undertaken. Public service advertising can increase knowledge and lead to attitude change and can strengthen support for effective but unpopular measures. A PSA campaign is more effective as the target group is more committed to the issue. Mass media campaigns are usually less effective than local, individual programmes.

In the Netherlands, licence acquisition courses for category B (passenger cars) are concluded by a theoretical and a practical test. Driving lessons are not obligatory, but without them passing the practical test is virtually impossible. For practical reasons, the effectiveness of drivings tests and driver training is hard to assess in a scientific way. A few studies of the effectiveness of theory tests and practical driving tests are indeed available. These do, however, not show a marked relation between crash risk and driving test performance or driver training.

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.

The social costs of road crashes in the Netherlands in 2018 are estimated at 17 billion euro (between € 15.8 and € 18.6 billion euro), equivalent to more than 2% of the gross domestic product (GDP). This is significantly higher than other traffic-related social costs such as traffic congestion (€ 3.3 to € 4.3 billion) and environmental damage (€ 7 billion). The costs amount to about € 2.8 million per road death and more than € 300,000 per serious road injury.

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.

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.

More detailed information about the individual data sources can be found in the report Data Sources; A comprehensive overview.