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.
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.
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.
A 30 km/h zone is also known as a ‘zone 30’ or a 'residential area'. The zone is mostly situated within an urban area and consists of connected access roads with a 30 km/h speed limit. The areas have a residential function where slow traffic and motorized traffic mix. For this reason speeds must be low (30 km/h maximum). For example, infrastructural measures at both road sections and intersections (think of humps, plateaus and road narrowings) can be used to realize such a low speed.
A safe infrastructure is of vital importance to pedestrians and cyclists. In 2010-2019, 40% of the number of road deaths were pedestrians or cyclists. In 2018, they even made up 69% of the number of seriously injured road users. If pedestrians or cyclists are involved in crashes with motorised vehicles driving faster than 30km/h, they run a significant risk of severe or fatal injuries. The design of residential areas and homezones should therefore ensure that driving speed does not exceed 30km/h.
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.
The construction of the road network and the road design have a large effect on road safety: firstly, because these make certain conflicts impossible or unlikely (e.g. physical separation of driving direction, separate cycle lanes, obstacle-free verges); secondly, because these direct the desired traffic behaviour (recognizability, predictability). The Netherlands uses three road categories: access roads, distributor roads and through roads. Each road type has its own design principles, for both road sections and intersections.
In this factsheet wrong-way driving is defined as ‘a car driving in the wrong direction on a road with separated driving directions and consequently driving into oncoming traffic '. This relates mainly to motorways. Wrong-way driving crashes are rare. The outcome, however, is often severe. Most wrong-way driving crashes occur when a driver enters a motorway exit ramp or when a driver reverses direction on a motorway. Orientation problems (especially among the elderly) or recklessness (especially among young drivers) are the most common causes.
Visual information is of the utmost importance to road users. In darkness, both public lighting and vehicle lighting help road users take stock of the traffic situation and help them to be seen by others. Installing public lighting leads to a 50% reduction in the number of nighttime injury crashes. Disavantages of public lighting are, among other things, the risk of collisons with lamp posts, light pollution and the costs of material, maintenance and energy consumption. The road safety effects of a reduction in illuminance level on motorways vary according to the traffic situation.
Risky road user behaviour is behaviour that adversely affects road safety, such as driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medicines, speeding, inappropriate speed, distracted or fatigued driving, red light negation, and failure to use or misuse means of protection (motorcycle or moped helmet, seatbelt). Younger road users more often display risky behaviour than older road users, and men more often than women.