Coronavirus led to fewer car accidents but injuries and fatalities remained high
In the so-called coronavirus year of 2020, the Netherlands saw fewer traffic accidents than normal - unsurprising due to the fact that millions were asked to stay home and work from home as much as possible, significantly reducing the number of cars on the road.
In spite of this, however, figures released by the Dutch police show that the number of injuries and fatalities as a result of traffic accidents didn’t fall as sharply as was expected.
Number of traffic accidents fell by 20 percent in 2020
The Netherlands saw the number of accidents fall by 20 percent in 2020, from an average of 100.000 accidents a year to “only” 80.000. But the number of injuries and fatalities fell by 11,2 percent and 10,2 percent respectively.
Last year, most accidents took place outside of rush hour, on weekdays and in built-up areas. Almost two-thirds of all victims were cyclists, moped riders, or pedestrians. A quarter of all casualties were between the ages of 12 and 24.
The figures were gathered and analysed by the police as well as insurance companies and the traffic engineering office, VIA, before being published by the Smart Traffic Accident Reporting (STAR).
Coronavirus saw more cyclists and pedestrians on the roads
Paul Broer, national infrastructure project leader at the police and co-initiator of STAR, says that while there may have been fewer cars on the road, coronavirus led to an increase in the number of cyclists and pedestrians, especially in built-up areas. Traffic safety specialist Mark Maaskant also notes that the increased number of delivery vehicles over the past 12 months likely contributed to the number of injuries and fatalities.
STAR also found that, at the start of the coronavirus crisis, nearly half of all motorists were driving an average of 15 percent faster than the legal speed limit. Broer points out that the empty roads meant many were taking liberties on the road, exceeding the speed limit and driving dangerously, and that this also led to a number of accidents.
Broer says that, if employees continue to work from home more in a post-COVID world, the “traffic picture” in the Netherlands will change permanently, and the Dutch government and municipalities will have to look into ways to make the roads safer. “If there are permanently more cyclists and walkers on the road, road authorities and municipalities will have to construct wider cycle paths and make more streets car-free."