How many casualties are caused by wrong-way driving?


Information about the Netherlands

It is not known how many casualties are caused by wrong-way driving crashes in the Netherlands. In fact, since 2004, wrong-way driving crashes and casualties are no longer registered as such.

Older figures [2] show that the number of wrong-way driving crashes is low, but the consequences are often serious. Between 1991 and 1997, an annual average of 22 road crashes due to wrong-way driving were recorded on motorways in the Netherlands. That is 0.1% of all registered road crashes. On average, these 22 wrong-way driving crashes resulted in six minor injuries, six serious injuries and five road deaths. This amounts to about 3.7% of all road deaths on motorways.

Between 1998 and 2003, an annual average of seven injury crashes and two road deaths were due to wrong-way driving. This shows a downward trend, but according to an analysis of newspaper reports from 2006, after the relatively good years of 1998-2001, the number of road deaths due to wrong-way driving increased again [3].

Information from other countries

Data from other countries also show that wrong-way driving crashes are infrequent. They also show that the consequences of such crashes are relatively serious.

On Belgian motorways, 122 injury crashes involving a wrong-way driver were recorded between 2010 and 2019; this is an average of about 12 per year [4]. Almost one in five (19%) involved a fatal crash, compared to 3% of all crashes on motorways.

In Germany [5], about 0.05% of all crashes on motorways and 0.2% of crashes on motorways resulting in road deaths or injuries are wrong-way driving crashes. These wrong-way driving crashes involve one or more injuries in about half of the cases and one or more road deaths in more than 15% of the cases. The data cover the 2006-2011 period.

Swiss crash data [6] show that, between 2000 and 2004, a total of 106 wrong-way driving crashes occurred in Switzerland, resulting in 114 casualties. Of those casualties, about 29% were seriously injured and 13% fatally injured. In the crashes, significantly more casualties occurred among the occupants of the oncoming vehicle (about 70%) than among the occupants of the ‘wrong-way car’ (about 30%). In about 90% of the cases, multiple vehicles were involved in a wrong-way crash.

French data for 1999-2003 [7] show that 0.2% of injury crashes and 4.4% of fatal crashes on French motorways are wrong-way driving crashes.

In the United States, 3% of all crashes on highways with separate lanes were wrong-way driving crashes [8]. A study in the state of Michigan shows that 32% of wrong-way driving crashes between 2005 and 2009 were fatal, or resulted in permanent disability. This was also true for 2% of all crashes on those same roads, during that same period [9]. In the state of Illinois [10], wrong-way driving crashes (in 2004-2009) involved multi-vehicle crashes in over three-quarters of the cases, and over half of these involved head-on collisions. These head-on collisions almost always resulted in fatal injuries.

Part of fact sheet

Wrong-way driving

Wrong-way driving crashes are infrequent, but their outcome is often serious. Most wrong-way driving crashes occur when drivers inadvertently enter a Meer

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