Decline in road fatalities larger among motorists than cyclists

The number of traffic deaths has decreased more sharply among motorists than among cyclists over the past two decades. Between 1999 and 2019, passenger car occupant deaths dropped by 60 percent while cyclist fatalities fell by 11 percent. The number of over-70s killed in a bicycle accident (including e-bike accidents) rose by 68 percent in this period. This is evident from a new analysis conducted by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

The number of car accident deaths more than halved between 1999 and 2019 (from 587 to 237). In the same period, traffic mortality among cyclists fluctuated. In 2018, the number of cyclist fatalities was relatively high at 228, comprising one-third of all traffic deaths. This number was down by 25 in 2019. The highest number of cycling deaths was recorded in 2000 (233), the lowest in 2010 (162). The only year in which more victims were killed in a bicycle accident than in a car accident (206 versus 201) was 2017.

Traffic deaths
JaarBicyclePassenger car
1999227587
2000233543
2001225504
2002195503
2003219496
2004180420
2005181356
2006216340
2007189317
2008181317
2009185296
2010162246
2011200231
2012200232
2013184193
2014185187
2015185224
2016189231
2017206201
2018228233
2019203237

Over the past two decades, various measures have been taken to improve road safety. For example, additional measures were taken to combat drink-driving, the so-called beginnersrijbewijs (a driving licence for beginner drivers) was introduced in 2002 and as of July 2019 it is punishable for all drivers to hold a mobile phone while driving.

More cycling deaths per kilometre travelled

In absolute terms, more people were killed in a car accident (237) than in a bicycle accident (203) last year, but this is different per kilometre travelled. Traffic mortality per billion vehicle-km was much higher among cyclists than among passenger car occupants (11 versus 1.6 deaths).

Traffic deaths per billion vehicle-km, 20191)
Vervoersmiddel Traffic deaths per billion vehicle-km
Bicycle11
Passenger car1.6
1) Traffic mortality figures are for 2019, figures on kilometres travelled are for 2018.

Majority of cycling fatalities involve people over 70

Cyclists who die in a traffic accident are older than victims of a fatal car accident. Of all cyclist fatalities in 2019, 59 percent concerned victims who were 70 years or older and 12 percent were younger than 30; of those killed in a car accident, 21 percent were over the age of 70 and 35 percent were younger than 30.

Between 1999 and 2019, the composition of the population also changed. The number of people under the age of 50 decreased while the number of over-50s increased. The number of over-70s rose from nearly 1.5 million at the beginning of 1999 to more than 2.3 million at the beginning 2019, representing a 56-percent increase. People in this age group have also become more mobile. Between 1999 and 2017, the average number of kilometres travelled by car as well as by bicycle increased per journey made by people over the age of 70.

Traffic deaths by age, 2019
LeeftijdUnder 30 yrs (%)30 to 49 yrs (%)50 to 69 yrs (%)70 yrs and over (%)
Bicycle251841119
Passenger car83584650

Not only in absolute but also in relative terms, the number of victims of fatal car accidents has gone down. Over the past twenty years, the number of motorists killed per 1 million inhabitants has dropped by 59 percent or more in all age groups. The decline was largest among people under 30 (-67 percent).

Passenger vehicle occupant fatalities
JaarUnder 30 yrs (per 1 million people)30 to 49 yrs (per 1 million people)50 to 69 yrs (per 1 million people)70 yrs and over (per 1 million people)
199941.432.027.359.7
200039.527.729.146.4
200133.929.725.043.1
200236.927.318.251.6
200336.828.421.834.4
200427.821.420.245.3
200523.020.316.634.1
200622.120.514.731.2
200720.817.716.027.1
200821.218.113.729.6
200920.114.811.434.8
201015.515.78.525.0
201112.912.99.629.4
201214.613.310.520.6
201313.810.26.419.1
201410.67.77.728.4
201512.311.610.326.6
201612.610.413.224.5
201710.911.810.816.3
201813.911.97.029.5
201913.813.310.021.5

The number of cycling fatalities per 1 million inhabitants showed a decrease in almost all age groups, except for people over 70. The number of over-70s killed in a bicycle accident increased by 8 percent. The sharpest decrease was seen among cyclists younger than 30, with a 64-percent drop in victim numbers.

Bicycle fatalities
JaarUnder 30 yrs (per 1 million people)30 to 49 yrs (per 1 million people)50 to 69 yrs (per 1 million people)70 yrs and over (per 1 million people)
199911.65.917.347.7
200010.36.816.953.1
20018.77.616.850.3
20029.55.911.144.5
20037.54.918.452.8
20047.74.412.641.6
20056.45.012.145.3
20066.16.016.054.5
20077.34.59.353.0
20085.44.512.146.8
20095.73.512.947.6
20104.53.49.545.4
20115.03.411.758.2
20124.44.311.058.1
20133.93.711.151.0
20144.54.69.748.6
20154.22.710.949.7
20163.53.69.753.0
20172.56.110.853.6
20183.84.814.452.7
20194.24.18.951.3