West Flanders has the most road traffic fatalities

West Flanders is the worst Flemish province when it comes to road safety. According to figures published by the Flemish Bureau of Statistics that form the basis of an article that appears in Wednesday’s edition of the daily ‘Het Nieuwsblad’, the province has the highest number of fatalities and people severely injured in road traffic accidents of any of our region’s five provinces. 

The figures show that in West Flanders the level of people killed or badly injured in road accidents is 0.55 per 1,000 population. This is way above the average of 0.42 per 1,000 population for Flanders as a whole.

Flemish Brabant has the lowest level of people killed or badly injured on the roads. Meanwhile, East Flanders scores almost as badly as its western neighbour when it comes to road deaths and serious injuries sustained in road traffic accidents.

This raises the question of why proportionally more people are killed or badly injured in West Flanders than elsewhere in our region. The Governor of West Flanders Carl Decaluwé intends to have research carried out into the road safety issue in his province. The Governor’s office told the paper that after the summer vacation extra staff will be assigned to looking into this.

One theory is that the relatively high number of serious road accidents in West Flanders is linked to the relative remoteness of some of the towns and villages there and the fact that they are only accessible via standard single carriageway main roads, rather than via motorways or dual carriageway trunk roads.

Werner De Dobbeleer of the Flemish Traffic Studies Foundation (VSV) appears to back this theory.

"International research has shown that outside built-up areas accidents on these kinds of road claim the highest level of fatalities and serious injuries. This due to crossroad, traffic coming in the opposite direction and the higher speed compared with driving in town. West Flanders is a rural province so there are more roads like this and consequently probably more road traffic accident victims”.

The research that will be carried out on behalf of Governor De Caluwé will look into whether this theory carries any validity.