How many casualties are due to wrong-way driving?


In the Netherlands

The number of casualties in the Netherlands due to wrong-way driving crashes in recent years is unknown. This is the result of the fact that since 2004 casualties in wrong-way driving crashes are no longer registered as such. For more detailed information about wrong-way driving crashes it would be good if this were to be registered again.

Older data [3] shows that although their number is low, the consequences of wrong-way driving crashes are often severe. Between 1991 and 1997, an annual average of 22 crashes was registered due to wrong-way driving on motorways in the Netherlands; this is 0.1% of all registered road crashes. On average, these annual 22 wrong-way driving crashes resulted in six slight injuries, six severe injuries and five fatalities.  Five fatalities is approximately 3.7% of all fatalities on Dutch motorways.

Between 1998 and 2003, there were on average seven injury crashes on motorways per year due to wrong-way driving and an average of two road deaths. This indicates a decreasing trend, but according to an analysis of newspaper reports from 2006, the number of road deaths due to wrong-way driving increased again after the relatively good years 1998-2001 [4].  

In other countries

Because the Dutch data is very limited, we look also at international data. This data confirms that there are relatively few wrong-way driving crashes, but that the consequences are severe. French data for the period 1999-2003 [5] shows that 0.2% of the injury crashes and 4.4% of the fatal crashes on the French motorways is a wrong-way driving crash.

In Germany [2], about 0.05% of all motorways crashes and 0.2% of the injury/fatal crashes on motorways are wrong-way driving crashes. In approximately half of these wrong-way driving crashes there are one or more serious road injuries and in over 15% of the wrong-way driving crashes there are one or more fatalities. This is data from the period 2006 to 2011.

Swiss crash data [6] shows that between 2000 and 2004, a total of 106 wrong-way driving crashes occurred in Switzerland, with a total of 114 casualties. About 29% were serious road injuries and about 13% were road deaths. In these crashes significantly more casualties were occupants of the oncoming vehicle (about 70%) than the occupants of the wrong-way driving vehicle (about 30%). Multiple vehicles were involved in about 90% of the wrong-way driving crashes.

Wrong-way driving crashes seem to be somewhat more frequent In the United States than in Europe: in the US 3% of all crashes on motorways with separated driving directions were wrong-way driving crashes [7]. A study in the State of Michigan shows that 32% of the wrong-way driving crashes in the period 2005-2009 were fatal or resulted in permanent disability. On the same roads, in the same period, this was the case for 2% of all crashes [8]. In the State of Illinois [9] more than three quarters of the wrong-way driving crashes were crashes involving multiple vehicles and more than half of these were head-on collisions. Nearly all these head-on collisions were fatal.

Part of fact sheet

Wrong-way driving

This fact sheet is currently being updated. You will find a new version here shortly

Deze factsheet gebruiken?