The most important advice for new drivers in the Netherlands is to watch out for cyclists, especially when turning! The Netherlands is known for its vast amount of cyclists and these do not take most regulations that strictly. Driving in the city can be stressful and finding a parking spot even more so, the public transport is a much more convenient and relaxing way to travel.
Even though the roads are good, that does not mean that driving is easy. Accidents happen and according to TISPOL there were 640 deaths (63 on motorcycles) and 19,000 injuries in 2010 in the Netherlands.
Rules and regulations
To avoid getting involved in these accidents, it is recommended you know these rules:
- Drive on the right, overtake on the left.
- Motorcycle drivers and passengers must wear crash helmets, this is obligatory.
- It is compulsory to carry a driving licence, car registration papers and insurance documents in the car (Dutch, EU and International Driving Licences are accepted).
- Mobile phones may only be used with a hands-free system while driving. Even holding a mobile in a moving vehicle is considered an offence and will cost you a lot of money. Dutch people are really against calling without a hands-free system.
- Seatbelts are compulsory.
- Drivers should pay particular attention to cyclists who may ride next to each other and often have a way of right. Especially younger cyclists ride in groups and require extra attention.
- Unless otherwise signposted, vehicles coming from the right have priority.
- Buses have priority when pulling out.
- Trams have priority except where signposted at major junctions.
But what happens if you follow those rules and an accident still happens? Here is what you should do at all times!
- Stop immediately, driving off after an accident is an offence in the Netherlands!
- Try to get the car(s) to the side of the road.
- Use hazard lights and place a red warning triangle 30m from the scene to warn oncoming traffic
After everyone is safe you must exchange your details. These include:
- Name and address of all the people involved in the accident, if possible from witnesses as well
- Vehicle registration numbers
- Details of the insurance companies
- Fill in the claim forms. Always do this! Some people are known to tell lies and tell you it won’t be necessary but the claim forms must be sent to the insurance company. There is no time limit yet it’s best to do this as quickly as possible.
- If possible, take a photograph of the scene of the accident
Accidents involving an injury or a fatality require other actions (besides doing the above):
- Contact the police and call an ambulance. Both can be done at the same time via 112.
- The police will make an official report and a copy of this report can be requested. Write to: Stichting Processen Verbaal (The Foundation for Police Reports in Dutch), which can be reached at: Postbus 7070, 2701 AB Zoetermeer (Tel: +31 (0) 79 322 98 67)
- If the police do not attend the scene of the accident, those involved must collect the names and addresses of all relevant parties and witnesses. The European claim form may be used and signed by all
Remember that leaving the scene of an accident without providing information is considered an offence as well!