Each month an incident occurs in which a vehicle breaks through a Dutch motorway guardrail.
Dutch road safety has been called into question after a report, from the daily De Telegraaf, which states that the country’s 40-year-old motorway guardrails are insufficiently strong. According to the paper, the guardrails were not designed to stop a modern-day lorry, which can be as much as twice the weight of lorries from the 1960’s, when the guardrails were first deployed.
The Institute for Road Safety Research says the government needs to conduct new tests to determine if the guardrails are strong enough. Researcher Adze Dijkstra says the guardrails were designed when trucks weighed much less than they do now and the rails were subjected to safety tests that no longer reflect the traffic conditions. For instance, there are far more three and four-lane motorways now than there were 40 years ago when the rails were designed.
“During the 1960s the Netherlands choose a guardrail design that’s lightweight and flexible. These types of guardrails are no longer used in other European countries. I’ve raised this point before but no one’s interested learning about better alternatives,” says Engel-Jan Timmer, director of guardrail producer Eurorail.
The Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment disagrees with the conclusions reached in the paper saying that the guardrails are adequately strong and that there are not many accidents involving lorries and guardrails. The ministry says that stronger guardrails are only necessary in places where there are additional risks such as on bridges and viaducts.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide