Many EU countries operate largely the same traffic regulations as the Netherlands, but there are always exceptions. Are you planning to hire a car in the Netherlands? Check up on the most important traffic regulations before you go.
Maximum speeds probably don't vary as widely anywhere else as in the Netherlands. In the built-up area you can drive at 50 km per hour, but only 30 is allowed on residential areas with restricted speed limits. Outside of the built-up area the limit is generally 80 kph, unless signs indicate otherwise. On carriageways (without viaducts) the limit can be 100 kph, on motorways 100, 120 or 130 kph. And then there are low emission zones around the cities, where limits of 80 or 100 kph apply. This wide range of speed limits means that the risk of incurring a fine is high, so it is advisable to be vigilant, which is not only safer but also easier on your wallet!
A special form of speed check is the trajectory control. Cameras are installed at fixed points along the road and they record images of every vehicle that passes. By recognising the license plate at the various points, a computer calculates the average speed and if this is excessive a fine is sent by mail.
A radar detector would perhaps be useful with all these different speed limits, but unfortunately this is not permitted in the Netherlands. If you have GPS with a radar detection function, switch it off or risk a fine of no less than €250.
As in almost every other European country, it is against the law in the Netherlands to hold a mobile telephone in your hand while driving. Besides phone calls, texting, e-mailing, using the internet, listening to music and taking photographs are also prohibited. If you commit a breach, you risk a fine of €230, which makes the Netherlands the strictest country in all of Europe!
Alcohol and drugs
Of course, it is wiser not to drink at all when you have to drive. However, if you must, then make it no more than one or two drinks. The alcohol limit for drivers 0.5 g/l, which is similar to many countries but lower than the UK, for example. For drivers who have held a driving licence for less than 5 years and/or are younger than 25, the limit of 0.2 g/l applies. This is reached with just with one glass of beer. And it goes without saying that drug-taking and driving is wrong under any circumstances.
The EU guideline states that children smaller than 1.50 metres must be transported in an approved and appropriate child seat (i.e. one that is suited to the height and weight of the child). In the Netherlands, this regulation applies to children up to 12 years of age who are smaller than 1.35 metres. Do you plan to hire a car? Then don't forget to order the required child seats at the same time!
Parking in cities
In many larger cities – such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht – parking in the centre of town is expensive: charges of €5 per hour are not unusual. But many cities have large car park facilities – so called P+R (Park and Ride) – facilities on the outskirts of town, where you can park cheaply and also obtain free public transport tickets to the city centre and back – much less stressful!
Dutch people generally receive fine notices retrospectively by mail to their homes. Foreign drivers who are stopped, however, are usually required to pay an on-the-spot fine (in cash or by debit or credit card). If you have a hired car, any fine notice will be sent to the car hire company for forwarding to your home address. You can then either pay up or submit an appeal.