Dozens of traffic accident deaths linked to laughing gas use
Over the past years, dozens of people have been killed or injured in traffic accidents involving nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas. From 2019 to October this year, 63 people were killed, and 362 were hurt or seriously hurt in such accidents, NOS reports based on figures from the police.
There were almost 1,800 accidents involving nitrous oxide in that period. The total number of traffic incidents involving recreational use of laughing gas is also alarmingly high, the police said to NOS. In the first ten months of this year, there were 3,518 traffic incidents. In the whole of 2019, there were 2,305, and last year 4,537.
According to the police, it is currently difficult to say whether laughing gas was the direct cause of an incident. "But that is our suspicion in most cases," Paul Broer of the police said to NOS. There are no blood or breathalyzer tests for detecting nitrous oxide. And while these are in development, it is not clear when they can actually be used.
The recreational use of laughing gas is still legal in the Netherlands. But the police stress that driving after using it is a punishable offense - it is illegal to drive under the influence of any substance that can affect driving ability. "The underestimation of nitrous oxide and its consequences is still large," said Broer.