Thursday 27 February 2020

44 deaths at the school gates: On your bike, minister tells parents

Photo: Meredith Glaser via

There have been 10,000 traffic accidents near or next to Dutch schools in the past three years, and safety standards are insufficient at nine in 10 locations, RTL Nieuws said on Friday.

In 44 accidents at least one person was killed, RTL said. Accidents around school premises are 13 times more likely to take place in cities than near schools in rural areas.

The figures are based on research by RTL Nieuws and the University of Groningen’s expertise centre Geodienst, and a survey among nearly 1,000 schools.

Almost nine in 10 schools report dangerous situations around school premises, and the problem is particularly bad around primary schools, RTL said. Illegal parking, congested access roads, speeding and confusing traffic situations are among the most frequently experienced problems.

In a reaction infrastructure minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen said the figures are shocking. ‘Traffic safety is a priority so I really want to bring down the number of accidents,’ she told RTL Nieuws.

The minister said local councils and parents must act. ‘It’s all hands on deck for the responsible local councils and aldermen. I also think parents should set an example. Please don’t take your children to school by car. Get your bike out, do it safely,’ RTL quotes her as saying.

Traffic psychologist Karel Brookhuis of the university of Groningen said bringing down the number of accidents is not that simple. ‘Every situation is different. It is also important when planning a new school to take a good look at the traffic in an area,’ he said.

Brookhuis said police should do more to curb dangerous traffic behaviour by parents. He is not in favour of more parking spaces around schools because it will exacerbate the problem, he said.


Earlier this week, the Telegraaf reported that three in 10 Dutch children now travel to school by car despite a series of campaigns encouraging them and their parents to take the bike.

Research agency SOAB found that the number has increased in recent years even though schools and safety organisations such as Veilig Verkeer Nederland have urged parents to escort younger children by bike.

The trend has been partly attributed to the increase in the number of families where both parents work, leaving them with no option but to drop their children off by car on their way to the office, De Telegraaf said.

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