In the 1990s, the Institute for Road Safety Research (SWOV) in the Netherlands introduced the vision of sustainable safety. In a sustainably safe traffic system, crashes are prevented as much as possible, and when prevention is not possible, the probability of severe injury is reduced to almost zero. In 1998, implementation of the vision commenced with the start-up program. Ten years after the start-up program, there was an investigation of how implementation of the measures that emanated from or were in line with the vision of sustainable safety had progressed and what effects these measures have had on safety. The assessment indicated that a substantial number of traffic safety measures were implemented from 1998 through 2007. Many actions taken within the framework of the start-up program were aimed at improving infrastructure safety; the most important actions were categorization of the road network and traffic calming measures such as the construction of 30- and 60-km/h zones. In addition, traffic enforcement increased as a result of the establishment of dedicated regional traffic enforcement teams. The crashworthiness of vehicles also improved. These measures had a positive effect on traffic safety. Each individual measure prevented casualties. Moreover, the fatality rate decreased from 7.3 fatalities per billion kilometers traveled in 1998 to 4.7 per billion in 2007. It is estimated that together the measures prevented 300 to 400 fatalities in 2007 (32% to 34% fewer than expected) and 1,600 to 1,700 fatalities from 1998 through 2007. Finally, a benefit–cost analysis indicates that the measures were also cost beneficial (benefit–cost ratio 3.6:1).
Ten years of Sustainable Safety in the Netherlands; An assessment