Unfortunately, the roads in Australia seem to be more dangerous for both bicyclists and drivers than those in the Netherlands. Expats should make a few changes to how they approach these activities in Australia, especially in light of the following stats.
The Netherlands is one of the safest places in the world for bicyclists, and many Dutch cyclists never even put on a helmet. By contrast, helmets are required by law for all bicyclists in Australia.
The Netherlands takes a different approach when it comes to making cyclists safer. Instead of changing the laws or rules for the bicyclists, the country focuses on changing the rules and expectations for the heavy vehicles that surround them. After any bike fatality in the Netherlands, an intense investigation is opened. Using slow-motion cameras, the authorities in the area of the accident try to figure out exactly what happened, and if possible, they redesign the road and increase the width of the bike lane.
Helmets became mandatory nation-wide in Australia by 1992, and since then the number of cyclists’ deaths has varied between 26 and 57 a year. The government’s response has simply been to encourage helmet use, according to HelmetFreedom.org, and expats who are aware of this difference can work with the local law enforcement agencies and bicycle safety advocates to encourage Australia to adopt some of the safety and research tactics that have proven successful in the Netherlands.
In addition to being safe for bicyclists, the Netherlands is also relatively safe for drivers. Yearly, the country experiences about 46 fatalities for every one million residents, making it the third-safest country in Europe (in Amsterdam, the rate is only 27 fatalities per one million inhabitants). The European Commission attributes these low numbers to the density of cars on the roadways. Roads that are full of traffic tend to have lower speeds and thus create a safer environment for drivers.
Australia, in contrast, has lots of wide open spaces and roads with little to no traffic. There are approximately 1,303 road fatalities in Australia each year, according to the Australian Government Department of Infrastructure and Transport, which equals a rate of 59 fatalities per one million inhabitants. That’s significantly higher than the Netherlands.
Drivers from the Netherlands pay for their safe roads in the form of a road tax or BPM, which is used to make the roads even safer. Australians, in contrast, pay for their relatively dangerous roads with high car insurance premiums. The average cost of car insurance in Australia has increased by almost 8 percent over the last year, according to a study conducted by the financial services company Canstar, making it even more important for shoppers to compare rates before buying a policy.
Guest post by Karen Holly. Karen has been an insurance agent for more than 10 years and shares her auto, life and home insurance expertise on her company’s blog.