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Tips for Driving in the Netherlands

By: Tracy Whitelaw - Updated: 28 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Tips For Driving In The Netherlands

Holland has fantastic scenery for tourists and travelling around there can be a fun way to enjoy a holiday. With windmills, tulips and canals at every turn, you’re sure to lose yourself in the experience and find driving there a pleasure overall. Regardless of the scenery however, there are some road rules and customs specific to the Netherlands and familiarizing yourself with those before you go is a great idea. Generally drivers in Holland are considered to be ‘assertive’ drivers so you may be surprised at their apparent lack of driver courtesy. The trick is to get your confidence from the knowledge you’ve obtained before driving there and using this in conjunction with sensible driving techniques.

Essential Tips for Driving in the Netherlands

To drive legally in the Netherlands you must have a full UK licence. The minimum age to drive legally there is 18, so even if you’re 17 with your full UK licence, you won’t be able to drive. You should carry your insurance and vehicle documents also and if the car you’re travelling in doesn’t belong to you, you may need to provide written permission from the registered owner.

The modern photo licence is accepted in the Netherlands so it’s better to have this than the old style green paper licence. They drive on the right hand side in the Netherlands, so take your time to get your bearings and start off slow getting used to driving on the opposite side of the road from the UK. It is illegal to use your mobile phone while driving in Holland, although hands free kits are acceptable. You can be given a heavy fine if you break this rule, so think seriously before you pick up your mobile in the car.

Road Conditions and Parking

The road conditions in the Netherlands are generally very good and comparable with most other countries in Europe. Around the major cities you should expect to have some traffic and long traffic jams are commonplace at peak hours of the day. Many cities have a policy in place to help combat heavy traffic. Generally they aim to reduce all non-essential traffic within the city boundary, so if you’re planning to take your car into the city centre, consider parking outside and taking public transport. Parking is extremely limited and very expensive also. If you park outside a legal parking area, you’ll find that fines are very high. You may also have your car clamped if you park illegally. If your car is parked in a public place overnight, you should have it illuminated unless you’re in a built-up area within 30 metres of a street light.

The use of seatbelts is compulsory for all front seat passengers and if you have them fitted in the rear, you ensure your passengers wear them also. Children must be at least 3 years old to sit in the front seat and must be in a safety seat. Younger children aren’t permitted in the front of the car and should always be in the rear.

Speeding Laws in the Netherlands

Although many people in the Netherlands are considered to drive ‘aggressively’ and not ‘defensively’, the punishment for speeding is still extremely high. Speed cameras, mobile speed traps and unmarked police vehicles are in wide use in the Netherlands and you will eventually be caught if you continue to speed. Motorway speeds can vary dependent on the circumstances, so be aware of this and always stay vigilant. The general speed limits are:

  • Motorways – 120 km/h
  • Outside Built-up Areas – 100 km/h
  • Built-up Areas – 50 km/h

You should pay particular attention to a small yellow 100 km/h sign that can sometimes sit on the crash barriers of motorways. They’re difficult to spot if you’re not familiar with them and may mean you’ll be doing 120 in a 100 km/h zone. Also, you should remember that the minimum speed on a motorway is 60 km/h.

Road Rules in the Netherlands

There are a variety of specific road rules for driving in the Netherlands. Knowing these can make your trip less stressful and make you blend in more with local drivers. Some of the most important points to remember are:

  • Use your horn if you believe you’re a risk to traffic. At night, flash your lights rather than using the horn
  • Ensure you’re not speeding in a work area. If you’re caught doing so, you can be fined on the spot and they’re usually around 35-50% higher than normal
  • Do not cross a solid white line at any time, even if you’re turning
  • Watch out for trams. Only pass them on the right, unless there’s no space on the right and they can be passed on the left – never when passengers are boarding or getting off however
  • Be extremely vigilant for cyclists. There are cycle lanes on most major roads
  • Trams have priority on roads of equal importance. Always be aware of trams and tram lines
  • Fuel is readily available and you can pay with cash or cards.

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The small 100km/h signs along motorways are not yellow. They are miniture versions of the regular red and white circle with '100' written inside - they sit on top of the "Hectometre posts" (these are like milestones along the side of the road, but every 100 metres). They also give the name of the road you're driving on and how many kilometres to the end/start of it. e.g. A2788.1. If you don't see the little 100 above it, the limit is 120. Recently, the limit on some motorways has been increased to 130km/h. This is always signed.
Willy Alex - 21-May-12 @ 7:09 PM
We are planning to join a rally in Holland. We will be driving a 1928 Vauxhall R-Type. The car has no seat belts, air bags etc.What are the rules about driving Vintage cars in Holland?
connellmarketing - 7-May-12 @ 3:33 PM
You have forgotten the most important thing ! When driving on any road that is not a designated 'right of way' road, you have to give priority to all traffic coming from the right. This is a very tricky rule, and needs careful thought. What it comes down to is that you can be on what you think is the 'main road' and suddenly something will come out of a side road in front of you. You have to stop and give way to them! Look up the exact road signs that tell you what sort of road you are on, I can't describe them here. After 30 yearsof living and driving in Holland this is still the most confusing and dangerous situation on the roads here.
uschi - 31-Jan-12 @ 9:48 PM
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