How do Dutch road users behave compared to road users elsewhere?


At present, there are no objective (observed) and comparable data about road user behaviour in different countries. There are, however, more subjective (self-reported) data available, originating from international surveys of road user behaviour such as ESRA (the E-Survey of Road Users’ Attitudes) and the preceding SARTRE (Social Attitudes to Road Traffic Risk in Europe).

Observed behaviour

In many countries, road user behaviour such as speeding, drink-driving, and telephone use is not yet systematically measured. And if it is measured, countries use different research methods, which makes it hard to compare the results. As part of the European ‘safe system’ approach (see the question What does the EU road safety policy look like?) the European Commission has indicated to strive for a better insight into the different aspects that affect a country’s road safety level. To this effect, the Commission asks and financially supports member states to voluntarily use a common methodology to collect and supply data about a number of behaviours relevant to road safety (Key Performance Indicators – KPIs). As far as road user behaviour is concerned, data about speed, alcohol consumption, distraction and usage of protection devices are to be collected and supplied. The year 2020 marked the start of the BASELINE project that develops and monitors the data collection methodology and data analyses.

Self-reported behaviour

Over a number of years, several questionnaires were distributed to ask participants in different countries about their road user behaviour and about their opinion of road safety measures. Initially, this concerned four SARTRE surveys in 1991 to 2012 [7] [8] [9] [10].

From 2015 onwards, data have been collected for a similar project: the ESRA project, which now runs in almost fifty countries on five continents. Reports based on the 2018 data collection, present the results of 32 countries on themes such as speed, alcohol consumption, distraction, protection devices, and behaviour of specific road user groups such as pedestrians, cyclists and older road users. It would take us too far afield to present all the results here, but the publications are available on the project website: The 2020 issue of the scientific journal IATSS is entirely dedicated to the results of the ESRA project.

Part of fact sheet

Dutch road safety in an international perspective

This fact sheet considers road safety in the Netherlands from an international perspective.

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