Publicatie

The concept of a sustainably safe road traffic system

A new vision for road safety policy in The Netherlands

Auteur(s)

Wegman, Ir. F.C.M.

Jaar

1997

The Dutch Government has set the following quantitative targets for road safety: a 25 per cent reduction in the number of road deaths and injuries by the year 2000 (compared with 1985 levels) and a further reduction of 50% and 40% respectively by the year 2010 (compared with 1986 levels). Various indicators suggest that road safety in The Netherlands is not showing enough significant signs of improvement and it is no longer certain that the aforementioned targets will be met, even if the traditional policy continued to be followed. New, innovative road safety policy is required and in 1990 the SWOV Institute for Road Safety Research was invited by the Dutch Government to develop a scientifically supported, long term concept of a drastically safer road traffic system. The general concept of sustainable development introduced by the UN Brundtland Commission also inspired the new vision for road safety: no longer do we want to hand over a road traffic system to the next generation in which we have to accept that road transport inevitably causes thousands of deaths and ten thousands of injuries, year after year in The Netherlands. A sustainably safe road traffic system is one in which the road infrastructure has been adapted to the limitations of human capacity through proper road design, in which vehicles are technically equipped to simplify driving and to give all possible protection to vulnerable human beings, and in which road users have been properly educated, informed, and, where necessary, deterred from undesirable or dangerous behaviour. Man should be the reference standard and road safety problems should be tackled at its roots. Safety principles were identified as keys to arrive at a sustainably safe system (functional use of the road network, homogeneous use en predictable use) and based on these principles as a basically theoretical perspective the concept has been worked out. Stimulated by a discussion in the Dutch Parliament, the concept of sustainable road safety has been adopted by the Dutch Government as an official part of its policy. Many other stake-holders supported the concept (other governmental levels and the ‘road safety community'), although some doubts have been heard about financing the implementation and about possible side-effects. Furthermore, some differences how to translate the vision practically could be detected between road safety professionals. Two major developments took place since the concept was launched. Aspecial Steering Committee prepared a so-called Start-up Programme covering the first phase of implementation. This programme will be introduced. Another important step was to implement different large scale demonstration projects in The Netherlands in order to enlarge our practical knowledge and experience on how sustainable road safety may be put into practice. Some information on these projects will be given. Before coming to conclusions and recommendations some information will be given how to finance a sustainably safe road traffic system

Print this page