Traffic rules in The Netherlands

The rules here in the Netherlands are pretty standard. A few examples: Overtaking must be done on the left; mobile phone use is only allowed with a hands-free device — just holding a phone, even if it’s not being used, is illegal. The driver and all passengers must wear seatbelts. 

Drivers should be aware of cyclists, and know that two cyclists can ride abreast of each other. Dutch teenagers tend to ignore this rule and even cycle next to each other with the three or four of them.


At uncontrolled intersections/ junctions vehicles coming from the right have priority, and buses have priority when pulling out in the build-up area. Trams have priority, except where noted.

A little history: Priority to the right is a right-of-way system, in which the driver of a vehicle is required to give way to vehicles approaching from the right at junctions. The system is stipulated in Article 18.4.a of the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic for countries where traffic keeps to the right and applies to all situations where it is not overridden by priority signs (including uncontrolled intersections), including side roads and roundabouts (but not (unpaved) paths.


The system is widely used in countries with right-hand traffic, including most European countries. But the diffence is the prevalence of uncontrolled junctions. In some countries, the right of way at virtually all but the most minor road junctions is controlled by the display of priority vs. stop / yield signs or by traffic lights, while in others (such as France) priority-to-the-right is sometimes applied even at heavily trafficked junctions such as the Place de l'Étoile (around the Arc de Triomphe) and on the Boulevard Périphérique (Paris ring road).


Most states in the United States enforce priority-to-the-right at uncontrolled junctions, where motorists must stop/yield to the right, although these intersections are less common. Increasingly, municipalities across the US have introduced all way stops, traffic signals and other designations such as multiple lane right-of-way or paved vs. unpaved roads as a means of controlling the junctions to decrease the likelihood of a collision and to make it easier to determine liability in the event of an accident. At T-intersections in the USA, traffic on the terminating road must yield to all traffic at the termination point.

Some countries use the priority-to-the-right rule, despite driving on the left. Australia uses the priority-to-the-right rule at four-way intersections where the roads all have equal priority, but specific rules apply for T-intersections. Singapore also uses priority-to-the-right, as well as priority to vehicles going straight and turning vehicles to give way to vehicles going straight.


dog driving

Specific regulations…

In some countries, you might find some traffic regulations rather surprising! For instance:

  • The Dutch mnemonic “Geef het door, rechts gaat voor” (pass it on, right goes first) sounds completely different in South-Africa; you should say “Geef het door, dieren gaan voor” (pass it on, animals go first). When an equestrian or someone who's guiding cattle asks you to stop you are obliged to do so. And it's also very sensible to release your gas pedal when you encounter crossing wild animals ;-)

  • In Sweden and Switzerland, daytime running light must remain turned on both day and night for cars.

  • In Saudi Arabia, women were simply not allowed to take the wheel until this was changed in 2018.

  • In Russia, it is illegal to drive a dirty car.

  • In Spain you have to have a spare pair of glasses or contact lenses in your car. And when driving twisty and narrow roads you are obliged to use your horn to warn oncoming traffic!

  • In Japan drivers can get a fine for splashing pedestrians when it rains! 

What about speed limits?

With no set speed limits on several motorway stretches, Germany stands out. Otherwise, speed limits can be quite variable depending on the country and sometimes even differ from one state or province to another (in particular the United States or Canada). For example, you can drive at 140 km/h on Bulgarian motorways whereas you cannot exceed 112 km/hour on British motorways. And in Malta, you can never drive at more than 80 km/hour, regardless of the type of road you are on...

monkey driving

Drink driving: zero tolerance or alcohol limits?

Drink driving policies sometimes are extremely different from one country to another. In many parts of the world, driving after having drunk even a single drop of alcohol is totally forbidden. This law particularly applies in the following countries:

Czech Republic, Hungary, Jordan, Nepal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Tunisia and UAE.

On Cyprus however it's forbidden to drink anything at all behind the wheel. Eating is also not allowed.

Some countries such as Sweden, Norway and Finland also have established stricter regulations than those in force in other European nations: driving is no longer possible if you have over 0.2 gram of alcohol per liter of blood. In the Netherlands a novice driver is allowed to have 0,2 an experienced driver not over 0,5 (about 2 glasses of alcohol). 

By contrast, other countries are considerably more tolerant. The blood alcohol content limit is set at 0.8 gram in the US, the UK and Canada.

So in short: A lot of differences concerning traffic rules around the world! What do you think?
Leave it like it is or change them into similar rules and regulations globally?