Police based national accident data from the Netherlands show an enormous increase of both in number and in share of car rear-end collisions resulting in injury over the last 15 years. The average severity of those accidents remains low (illustrated by very low shares of occupants killed or hospitalised). However, the apparent increase in number of less severely injured as well as the personal and societal consequences of their injuries may well impose an increasing threat to the quality of life within the Dutch society. Based on national accident data as well as other relevant injury and traffic exposure data, the current situation in the Netherlands is described. Differences with respect to gender unexpectedly suggest that female drivers have a higher risk of their car being hit from behind than male drivers do. Less unexpectedly, differences are found between males and females with respect to injury susceptibility. These differences are analysed using controlling factors such as type of car, type of road, and exposure to traffic. It appears that not all of the indicators used point the same way; some of the increase mentioned may be due to registration biases. There is also a lack of adequate data with regard to the real number of whiplash injuries, their severity, and the longer-term consequences. Even if the total scope of the problem of whiplash injury in the Netherlands is still not fully known, the current estimate of societal consequences implicates a need for preventive measures. In the first place, accident prevention should be considered and a number of possible preventive measures (such as infrastructural improvement and application of ITS devices in cars to maintain distance in traffic) are discussed. Injury preventive measures (such as in car protection against whiplash) are already more generally available but still need much improvement.
Document type: Article
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