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Road Safety Rules In The Netherlands

Monday February 11, 2019

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The Netherlands is a country where cyclists form a quarter of its traffic along with cars, buses, trams, trucks and trains.

With an enormous number of cyclists on the road, driving can be a challenge. The Netherlands Transport Ministry issues road safety rules and regulations for both motorists and cyclists.

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Driver’s License

  • The minimum age requirement for obtaining a Dutch driving license for cars is 17 years.
  • A moped driving license can be obtained by drivers aged 16 and above.
  • The learner has essentially to pass a compulsory theory exam and a final practical exam from the Central Office of Driving Certification (CBR).
  • Before the final practical exam, learners have to perform an intermediate practical exam in stopping, turning and parking.
  • High-speed bicycles with speed limits of 45km/h are required to have number plates. The riders should possess moped driving licenses.

Speed Limits

  • In general, the speed limits are 50 km/h on the city roads (urban areas) and 80 km/h on other rural roads.
  • The maximum speed allowed on expressways is 100 km/h and on motorways is 130 km/h
  • Traffic fines are imposed for speed violations. Speeding above the limits by 3-4 km/h is not fined on most of the roads. On roads where the speed limit is 130 km/h, there is no margin for violation. Even speed of 1 km/h above the limit is fined.
  • The speed is limited to 30 km/h within built-up areas and 40 km/h outside built-up areas on bicycle or moped tracks.
  • If excessive speeds are detected, the driver incurs on-the-spot fines.

Road Signs

  • Priority signs are those that indicate Stop, Start and End of Priority Roads, Give Way.
  • Warning signs indicate No Entry, Entry Closed to Cycles, Mopeds and Trucks; those that ban entry of vehicles exceeding specified lengths.
  • Instruction signs are those that ask to Drive Ahead, Keep Right, Turn Right, etc.
  • Warning signs indicate the presence of Hills, Curves, School Crossings, Tram Crossings, Road Closures, etc.

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Traffic Lights

  • Traffic lights follow the sequence of red, amber, green. An illuminated arrow alongside traffic lights indicates that vehicles can turn only in the direction of the arrow.
  • Signals with an illuminated picture of a bicycle pertain to bicycle/moped riders.
  • Signs stating ‘Right turn clear for bicycles and mopeds’ implies the amber and red lights do not apply to them and they can turn right.
  • Traffic lights for buses and trams follow the white, amber, red sequence where the flashing white light indicates that they can proceed.
  • At pedestrian crossings, a green light shows that they can cross; flashing green light warns that the light might turn to red soon and red light prevents pedestrians from crossing.

Safety Rules

  • Drivers and all passengers in the car should wear seat-belts.
  • Children below the age of 5 and below the height of 1.35m should be seated on safety seats at the rear of the car.
  • Helmets are to be worn by motorcyclists.
  • Mobile phones can be used only with a hands-free device. Holding a mobile phone while driving is also considered an offence.

Road Rules

  • The Dutch drive their vehicles keeping to the right side of the road. They are expected to keep to the extreme right of the road.
  • Overtaking of vehicles is permitted from the left. Cyclists have to overtake other cyclists from the left. Trams may be overtaken from the right. Vehicles entering a roundabout may overtake from the right.
  • Drinking and driving is illegal. Drivers who have been in possession of a license for five years or longer are permitted an alcohol level of a maximum of 50 mg/100 ml of blood. If one has held a license for less than five years the tolerance level is 20 mg/100 ml. The alcohol level allowed for scooter and moped drivers under the age of 24 is 20 mg/100 ml.
  • The DUI law makes operation of a vehicle with even a small amount of (detectable) specific drugs in one’s system illegal. This offence could lead to imprisonment and suspension of licenses for up to five years.
  • Traffic, including cyclists, approaching from the right has to be given priority unless signs indicate otherwise.
  • Trams are to be given priority over all other traffic except in areas where sign-posts mention otherwise.
  • Drivers reversing, performing U-turns, exiting and entering roads must give way to other vehicles at all times.
  • Drivers are not permitted to execute U-turns or reverse on motorways and highways.
  • Trailers and heavy vehicles are restricted to using the two right innermost lanes.
  • Dipped headlights have to be used after dark and in poor visibility conditions.
  • In cities and built-up areas, headlights can be flashed if necessary; horns can be used only in dangerous situations.
  • Pedestrians should walk on the pedestrian tracks. Pedestrians should familiarize themselves with the network of bicycle paths as most often they resemble foot-paths.
  • Cyclists are allowed to ride two abreast. 

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Parking

  • P-Zones are parking areas, most of which are metered. Areas with parking meters allow vehicles to be parked for 1-2 hours on paying the charges.
  • Blue-zone parking in urban areas permits parking on display of time-stamped traffic disc. The discs can be obtained from motor clubs and police stations.
  • Parking garages allow parking on payment of charges.
  • Park and Ride spaces are organized parking spaces outside the city limits. Drivers park in these spaces and use public transport to their destinations.
  • Alongside ‘no parking’ signs, rectangular signs indicate times when parking is restricted in such areas.
  • Parking is prohibited within five meters from intersections, outside built-up areas, on broken yellow lines and in places obstructing exits and entrances.
  • Cycles and mopeds are to be parked on pavements, footpaths and areas specifically assigned for parking.
  • Disabled drivers and invalid carriages are exempted from parking restrictions.
  • Despite traffic rules, traffic jams are a major occurrence during peak times. The narrow inner roads get congested and traffic spills over on to main highways.
  • Being wary of cycle riders, while driving, slows the drivers. The government maximizes its efforts to see that the roads are made safer and the drivers are therefore happier.