Dutch Customs and Etiquette - Traffic

Traffic

Most Dutch are competent drivers. The Dutch driving test is one of the toughest in the world and there is a mandated minimum number of hours driving with a licensed instructor. However, this does not necessarily translate into a pleasant driving style. Many Dutch drivers tend to be impatient or even aggressive, making Dutch traffic a somewhat daunting experience for many foreigners. Note that not all points mentioned here are true for all Dutch drivers.

  • Use of a car horn is common whenever someone impedes the flow of traffic. A delay in driving off when a traffic light turns green may prompt the use of horns by other drivers after a short time.
  • Somewhat rude gestures to point out perceived flaws in driving style are quite common in some parts of the Netherlands.
  • Traffic on motorways is dense and moderately fast, often above the speed limit.
  • Overtaking manoeuvres can take a long time due to the fear of spot checks by unmarked police cars in slower lanes. Similarly, lorries will attempt to overtake another lorry even if the difference in speed is minimal, often resulting in a long line of suddenly braking traffic behind the overtaking lorry if the road has two lanes.
  • Dutch drivers change lanes often and will overtake and/or swap lanes often, even if mildly endangering or hindering other drivers.
  • Lane change indicators are used rather randomly. Sometimes they're not used at all, at other times they're only switched on for a very short time and/or when already halfway through changing lanes.
  • Traffic rules state that vehicles have to drive in the right-most available lane. Unnecessarily staying in the left lane for too long may lead to a fine. It may also result in tailgating and/or overtaking on the right-hand side, both of which are forbidden and therefore finable as well.
  • Most Dutch drivers are careful with their own vehicles (even cosmetic damage is avoided and repaired as soon as possible), but can be somewhat inattentive to the property of others.
  • Dutch drivers are very alert of trajectory speed controls (permanently installed on over-head beams) as well as other speed traps, and will, if necessary, rapidly slow down to the speed limit in all lanes when approaching one. Most radio stations will announce spot speed checks, but do not generally announce trajectory speed controls.
  • Cyclists and pedestrians are well protected, and tend to treat traffic rules as guidelines. For example, red traffic lights are frequently ignored by pedestrians and cyclists. Cycling is extremely common, and cyclists will overtake cars on the right hand side if they can (especially when cars are waiting for a traffic light, in which case it is legal to do so). In practice this means that at all times, a cyclist may be present or turn up on the right hand side of the car. This needs to be monitored carefully. As a consequence, Dutch drivers tend to drive somewhat removed from the right hand side of the road in urban areas. Under Dutch law, cyclists and pedestrians are weaker traffic participants and strong evidence of accident inevitability by the stronger party is required to avoid high claims/fines. Dutch law guarantees a minimum of 50% compensation to cyclists/pedestrians above 14 years of age and 100% for children.

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Famous quotes containing the word traffic:

    To treat a “big” subject in the intensely summarized fashion demanded by an evening’s traffic of the stage when the evening, freely clipped at each end, is reduced to two hours and a half, is a feat of which the difficulty looms large.
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    There was a girl who was running the traffic desk, and there was a woman who was on the overnight for radio as a producer, and my desk assistant was a woman. So when the world came to an end, we took over.
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    If you don’t have a policeman to stop traffic and let you walk across the street like you are somebody, how are you going to know you are somebody?
    John C. White (b. 1924)