The government is planning a major effort to improve traffic safety as the roads get busier and the accident rate remains virtually unchanged.
Last year, 613 people were killed in traffic accidents and an estimated 20,800 seriously injured, a slight drop on 2016 but still well above earlier government targets.
‘My aim is clear and ambitious, no traffic accident victims,’ said transport minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen. ‘In a densely populated country like the Netherlands it is a challenge to make sure all road users – in cars, on public transport and on bikes – are safe. The importance of road safety is often underestimated.’
The plan, drawn up together with local and provincial officials as well as road safety experts, includes particular emphasis on tackling accident black spots.
Two-thirds of deaths occur in towns and cities and the government is setting up special teams of experts to look at roundabouts and cross roads which are considered safe, but which have high death rates.
Special speed traps will be introduced on 20 provincial roads which are known to be dangerous. One in five road deaths takes place on provincial roads, where the speed limit is usually 80 kph.
The government will also encourage the use of cruise control, lane departure warning systems and systems which warn drivers about being tired, the minister said.
Cycle tracks will be made wider and without obstacles and improvements will be made in places which have a high accident rate. Officials will also stimulate the use of helmets by vulnerable cyclists but they will not be required by law.
Officials expect the number of people cycling will fall sharply if helmets are made compulsory.
The ban on cycling while holding a mobile phone announced a year ago will come into effect in the middle of next year. One in three 12 to 21-year-olds cycle and use their phones at the same time and phones are said to have played a role in 20% of bike accidents involving the under-25s, the transport ministry said last year.
The punishment for drunk driving will go up and the same standards on drink driving will be applied to moped and scooter users, as well as the drivers of small electric cars like Cantas. Alcohol is thought to have been a factor in one in five accidents.
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