In the Netherlands the social costs of road accidents have been the subject of frequent studies over the years, for the last time in 2012, when the costs in 2003, 2006 and 2009 were estimated. Based on a very detailed analysis of the various costs associated with traffic accidents (medical costs, immaterial costs for victims, vehicle damage, administrative costs, etc.), this new study estimates the total social costs, providing new insight into the socio-economic impact of road accidents. The information has also been used as input for social cost-benefit analyses and studies on external costs (in the CE Delft study ‘The external and infrastructure costs of traffic’ the indices from the 2012 study on the social costs of traffic accidents were used to calculate the external costs of accidents).
The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment (I&M) is considering commissioning an update of this study. A key question in this context concerns the extent to which it is desirable and feasible to update the methodology and data set employed, particularly given the substantial costs this might involve. The ministry is also keen to obtain greater insight into the potential for European collaboration in calculating the costs of road accidents. In that framework CE Delft, in cooperation with W2Economics, has carried out a preliminary study to explore the contours of a possible update study.
Our study shows that the scope of the cost studies conducted to date in the Netherlands are largely in line with international guidelines, the only exception being the fact that the immaterial costs of light casualties are ignored. The quality of the methods and data used do need to be improved in various respects, though. In particular, the data used for many of the cost categories are very outdated (e.g. the costs of vehicle damage). For certain costs it is also recommended to improve the methodology employed (e.g. for the immaterial costs of heavy casualties). Finally, it is concluded that there may be potential for international collaboration in updating the cost estimates, but only in the medium term.