The press release reads:
“According to figures released today by Statistics Netherlands and the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, 640 people were killed in traffic accidents in the Netherlands in 2010. This is 11 percent fewer than the 720 deaths in 2009, and continues the downward trend observed in the last few years. The number of fatalities among people aged under 40 in particular decreased, as well as the number among cyclists and people in cars. (…)
Most of the decrease in the number of traffic deaths is accounted for by cyclists and car drivers and passengers. There were 50 fewer car deaths in 2010; at 246 this was 17 percent lower than in 2009. This group does account for most of traffic deaths however. The number of cyclists killed on Dutch roads fell from 185 in 2009 to 162 in 2010.”
|Cyclists in Houten. |
The safety for cyclists increases every year in the Netherlands.
The minister writes in her letter to the Tweede Kamer (the Lower House of Parliament):
"With these figures the Netherlands holds its position in the leading group of the safest countries in Europe. Regarding the percentage of decline: this is in line with other countries for which figures for 2010 are known at the moment (on average 10% lower than 2009). It should be noted that the number of deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in the Netherlands is considerably lower than in most other countries. This adds additional weight to the decrease in 2010."
There is however, also a down side to the positive figures:
''There was a notable slight rise in the number of pedestrians killed in 2010: 72 pedestrians died, of whom over 60 percent were aged 50 years or older. Pedestrians were the only group of road users for whom the number of deaths did not decrease."
In a reaction the ANWB (motorists organisation) called for a separate investigation into the reasons of the increase of the number of deaths for this vulnerable group of traffic users for which there is no apparent cause. And the spokesperson feels the country should do even better: “The goal is to decrease the number of deaths to 500 in 2020. But we feel it is possible to go further than that, a decrease of 50% in 10 years. So from 640 deaths in 2010 to 320 in 2020”.
In her letter the minister also notes that she “brings this message with mixed feelings, as 640 deaths still mean a great deal of sorrow”.
But still it is good news that the number of especially younger and older cyclists decreased significantly.
Number of deaths 2009
Number of deaths 2010
All types of traffic
0 to 15 year olds
The footnotes to this table reveal more interesting facts:
For the over 65 year old cyclists: “This decrease seems in line with the average decrease figure, but this age group grew 3% compared to 0.5% for the whole population so the figure is actually better than it seems.”
And for cyclists in general: “In 2010, 4 cyclists were killed in right hook incidents with a truck. In 2009 this figure was 10.”
To be perfectly clear: that is the number for the whole country in the entire year.
|60 years of road deaths figures for the Netherlands. Today there are less deaths than in 1950 even though the population grew from 10 million in 1950 to 16.5 million in 2010 and mobility grew exponentially.|
Statistics Netherlands has one final remark: “The number of fatal casualties on Dutch roads has been decreasing since the mid-1970s, when more than 3 thousand people a year were killed in traffic accidents. (..). Since the year with the highest number of traffic deaths, 1972, the number of people killed yearly has fallen by 80 percent.”
In 1972 the Dutch population was 13 million compared to 16.5 million in 2010.
Looking at all the information it cannot be a coincidence that from the mid 1970s the people of the Netherlands stood up for the most vulnerable road users and separate bicycle infrastructure slowly became the norm.
Update: 19 April 22:00 hrs CET.
In the Dutch press today some criticisms appeared that the Dutch police allegedly does not report all deaths and injuries and that the figures would therefore be unreliable. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) issued an extra explanation today (in Dutch only) as to how they determine the figure:
"To determine the number of traffic deaths in the Netherlands CBS analysed data from three sources: data from the death certificates physicians complete with the cause of death and records of the district public prosecutors on non-natural causes of death, complemented with accident reports by the police. By linking and comparing these sources CBS determines the figure of traffic deaths.
The vast majority of deaths is based on forms prepared by doctors and the files of district public prosecutors. The additional police figures supplied Statistics Netherlands in 2010 with six additional road deaths, which is 0.9% of the total. This number varied during the period 2003-2009 between 17 deaths (2003) and 3 deaths (2008). These deaths involve in particular persons who had a traffic incident in the Netherlands but who deceased abroad.
The number of traffic deaths does not disclose the amount of accidents nor the number of victims injured in an accident. "
While it's true that deaths are on a downward trend in the Netherlands, it's rare that you can completely trust press releases. Please also read about how this downward trend reversed in 2011, and the surprising reasons why.