Over 25% more traffic deaths last year; Many older cyclists killed

The number of people killed in traffic accidents rose by over a quarter last year. In 2022, there were 737 road deaths, 155 more than in 2021, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reported. Cyclists over 75, in particular, were more often victims.

The number of road fatalities was the highest since 2008. Among the total number of road casualties, 291 people were cycling when they had their fatal accident. According to CBS, that is the highest number since it started keeping track of this figure in 1996.

Fatal accidents increased the most among people aged 75 and older. And especially by bicycle: 150 in 2022, compared to 94 the year before.

Nearly half of the killed cyclists died in a collision with a (delivery) car. A quarter died without a collision, falling due to becoming unwell, a wrong steering movement, bad road surface, slipperiness, or a foot between the spokes, for example.

With 140 fatalities, Noord-Brabant had the most dangerous roads last year. The number of deaths there increased by just under 50. Zuid-Holland, Gelderland, and Noord-Holland followed. All three of those provinces saw an increase in road deaths. In the province of Utrecht, the number of road fatalities fell. In Drenthe, Overijssel, and Zeeland, the number doubled compared to 2021.

As in previous years, more men (522) than women (215) died in traffic last year. At the beginning of this century, over 1,000 people died in traffic every year. The number steadily dropped to 570 in both 2013 and 2014.

The sharp increase in rose fatalities underlines that the Netherlands needs to invest more in road safety, Minister Mark Harbers (Infrastructure) responded, speaking of painful figures. “The increase is not unexpected, but it is alarming.”

“The number of road casualties must be reduced by making Dutch roads and cycle paths safer,” said Harbers. According to him, this will partly happen through the 50 million euros toward innovative measures for bicycle safety and 200 million euros that will go to N-roads during this coalition period.

The safe traffic association VVN is shocked by the high number of road deaths last year. “It is absurd that despite all those safety systems in cars, things go wrong so often,” VVN spokesperson Rob Stomphorst said. “Nowadays, we have all kinds of tools on board to make traffic safer, but at the same time – and scientists also say that – people are more daring. They drive faster, are distracted by their smartphone.”

VVN calls for lower speed limits in built-up areas and an increased chance of getting caught if you speed. “If you know that there is a good chance that you will be fined, you will automatically drive less fast,” said Stomphorst. He is against making bicycle helmets mandatory. “But we do encourage wearing them. It would be nice if it became more normal to use one, like in Germany or Denmark. Or let e-bike sellers give their customers a free helmet. The number of casualties will decrease if more people wear bicycle helmets.”

Cyclists’ union Fietesrbond called the increase in road casualties shocking. Director Esther van Garderen pointed out that the number of bicycle fatalities has exceeded the number of car accident victims since 2020. “And it goes on and on,” she said. She is happy that people are cycling more and the elderly are cycling longer. But the infrastructure is not evolving along with this development, she said. She believes it is high time to invest more in this.

Seniors’ association ANBO said it found the CBS figures very disturbing. ANBO wants the exact cause of the increase to be clarified. “Is that increasing crowds, the behavior of road users, or, for example, lack of experience with new means of transport? Then we can look at appropriate measures.”

Reporting by ANP

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