The Netherlands is a country where cyclists form a quarter of its traffic along with cars, buses, trams, trucks
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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- 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.
- 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.
- Priority signs are those that indicate Stop, Start
andEnd 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 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.
- 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.
- 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
operationof a vehicle with even a small amount of (detectable) specific drugs in one’s system illegal. This offencecould 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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- 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
andareas 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.