Dutch motorways are becoming more dangerous and deadlier, according to road safety organisation SWOV. The number of motorway deaths rose to 81 in 2018, the highest figure in more than a decade.
The total number of accidents has more than doubled in five years, from 17,000 in 2014 to more than 38,000 in 2018. Motorways accounted for just under 12% of all deaths on the roads last year.
SWOV said the main causes of collisions were speeding and drivers being distracted, particularly by smartphones. But the agency also said police had not been enforcing speed limits strictly enough, preferring to focus on tracing criminals and fine defaulters.
The number of people pulled over by the national police traffic division fell to around 20,000 in 2017, well below the target figure of 30,500. In 2006 more than 100,000 drivers were stopped by the roadside and given warnings or fines.
SWOV director, Peter van der Knaap, told NRC the deterioration in road safety was a ‘worrying development’. He called for police to carry out more manned checks on speed and aggressive driving rather than relying on cameras.
‘Enforcement on motorways is absolutely essential, but it hasn’t been a priority for years,’ he said. ‘If you want to make motorways safer, the number of checks and the level of surveillance really need to increase.’
Van der Knaap said police surveillance had focused too much on using numberplate recognition to detect not just criminals, but people with unpaid fines and tax demands. Visible enforcement by patrol cars was also more likely to win public support than camera surveillance alone, he added. ‘People see that as sneaky.’
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