Accidents in tunnels

What do we see on the risk map?

The risk map shows rail, tram, metro and road tunnels with a complete covering over a distance of at least 250 metres.

What is the risk?

Accidents in tunnels are more dangerous than in the open air. An explosion or fire may cause considerable damage and hazardous substances cannot be removed quickly. Smoke causes poor visibility, lack of oxygen rapidly occurs and there may be panic. It is difficult to escape from a tunnel.

What can you do yourself?

The consequences of an accident in a tunnel are enormous. Comply with the applicable safety rules.

In the case of a minor accident or traffic congestion:

  • switch on your flashing warning lights;
  • keep a safe distance from the car in front of you;
  • switch off your engine if traffic has come to a standstill;
  • call for help – if necessary – using an aid station in the tunnel;
  • listen to the traffic report on the radio;
  • follow the instructions of the tunnel staff or on the traffic signs.

In the case of a major accident or fire:

  • switch on your flashing warning lights;
  • keep a safe distance from the car in front of you;
  • park your car of the far right to allow the emergency services access;
  • switch off your engine, leave the key in the ignition and leave your vehicle immediately in connection with smoke development (toxicity and limited visibility);
  • put out the fire – if possible – using a foam extinguisher or fire hose from an aid station;
  • call for help using an aid station in the tunnel;
  • follow the instructions of the tunnel staff, on the traffic signs or the tunnel manager that you hear via the PA system;
  • go as quickly as possible to another tunnel shaft via a cross connecting passage; help others.

Risks in your area?

What safety measures are there?

The government imposes safety requirements during the construction of new tunnels and when existing tunnels are modified. Requirements have to be met in order for permits to be granted. The independent Commissie Tunnelveiligheid [Tunnel Safety Committee] offers advice regard safety and building plans for tunnels. The emergency services (police, fire brigade and ambulances) regularly hold practice drills for accidents in tunnels. The government checks the safety of road and rail tunnels every four years.

Every tunnel has illuminated fireproof emergency exits at fixed distances from one another. These doors are also smokeproof. Most road tunnels and all railway tunnels have a ventilation system to extract smoke and hazardous substances. There are aid stations at fixed distances with a telephone, an alarm button and often a fire extinguisher. Many tunnels have cameras that are connected to the tunnel manager’s control room. The tunnel manager can call the emergency services if necessary. In addition, tunnels have PA systems.