Local councils want more powers to catch drunk drivers

A fixed roadside speed camera

The four big Dutch cities are lobbying MPs on Thursday for more powers to police and prevent traffic violations, starting with more speed cameras and alcohol controls on local roads.

More people have died and or been injured on Dutch roads in the last few years, with 745 fatalities and 8,300 seriously wounded in 2022, particularly on local roads. Figures for 2023 are not yet available.

Rotterdam traffic chief Vincent Karremans, who initiated the move, said that last year 14 people died and 1,500 were wounded on Rotterdam roads, the highest number in a decade.

“Things are heading in the wrong direction and we need to increase the chances of catching perpetrators,” Karremans told the NRC.

To do that councils need more powers to set up speed traps and check for drunk drivers and, they say, that council wardens should be given more powers to do so.

Motoring organisation ANWB supports the plan, a spokesman told the paper. The organisation is seeing an increase in “anti-social and aggressive behaviour”, and more people are driving while drunk. “The police are struggling because of a lack of staff. We need to increase the chances of catching people,” he said.

It is currently up to the police and the justice department where speed cameras are placed and when and where alcohol checks are carried out. Large-scale alcohol controls have been replaced by random checks because drivers warn each other via social media.

Campaigns do nothing to discourage speeding drivers, Karremans said, and routinely disregard 30 kph zones. Some 82% of Rotterdammers themselves estimate their chances of getting caught for a traffic violation is “low”, according to a survey carried out by the council.

Councils are prepared to stump up the money for the cameras, Karremans said, while the fines can go to a fund to improve traffic safety.

A justice ministry spokesman said the department does its “utmost to catch more perpetrators” and said there are plans to increase the number of mobile speed cameras from 35 to 125. It also said the number of fines for driving under the influence has gone up despite fewer mass alcohol checks.

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