Common factor in more than a quarter of Dutch motorway deaths

Common factor in more than a quarter of Dutch motorway deaths

According to research conducted by the Dutch Institute for Road Safety Research (SWOV), commissioned by Rijkswaterstaat, more than a quarter of those who suffered a fatal injury on a Dutch motorway in 2017 were not wearing a seatbelt.

Seatbelts save lives

Of the 58 who passed away in vehicles on Dutch motorways, 18 were not wearing a seatbelt - which is almost one-third. Six of the deceased were passengers and 12 were drivers. It’s also possible that the death toll of those not wearing seatbelts is higher, as in another 11 deaths, whether they wore a seatbelt or not is not known.

The number of fatal casualties is shockingly high and many of them consciously decided not to wear a seatbelt and clipped it in behind them to fool the seatbelt reminder alarm. Ragnhild Davidse, a researcher at the SWOV, is taken aback by the figures, “Evidently people find it [seatbelts] uncomfortable, but it is extremely important when it comes to your chances of surviving an accident. An airbag, for example, has a far lesser impact if you’re not wearing your seatbelt.”

If you’re driving in the Netherlands, you are required to wear a seatbelt. In 2017, according to the Central Judicial Collection Agency (CJIB), which deals with resolving fines, more than 33.000 fines were issued for failing to do so.

Reckless behaviour on Dutch roads

In a detailed analysis, based on police reports, researchers learned that there were 63 fatal accidents which resulted in 71 deaths on motorways in the Netherlands in 2017. This analysis included pretty much all of the motorways in the country and a score of N-roads. These accidents didn’t just involve passenger cars; they also involved lorries, vans, motorcycles and pedestrians. On a side note, motorway deaths only comprise a fraction of the total number of road fatalities, which was 613 in 2017.

Failing to use a seatbelt was not the only type of reckless behaviour carried out on Dutch motorways - in at least six of the 63 accidents, too much alcohol had been drunk. In another five accidents, at least, the driver was speeding, and in two of these cases had had too much to drink as well. The majority of accidents occurred due to inattentiveness and deliberate risk-taking behaviour, according to the SWOV. In a small share of accidents, a vehicle defect played a part.

For more information, please see the SWOV report (in Dutch).

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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