Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dutch Driving Habits

I know I am not alone when I say I find being in Dutch traffic a little on the stressful side, and this despite the fact that Dutch roads are a shining example of road safety when you look at accident statistics from across the world.

Most notably, the Dutch maintain the same sense of closeness on the roads as they do in their living situation. That's what you get living in such a densely populated country - no space to speak of.

In Dutch this is called "bumperkleven" and the person doing the "bumper sticking" is called a "bumperklever". Following the car in front so close that you may as well hop aboard is one of the primary causes of road accidents in the Netherlands, yet it seems almost a national hobby on the fast lane of the motorways. Indeed, if you are going to do it, you may as well do it at 120kmph!
Next, a red stoplight in the Netherlands, or to be fairer, in the cities in the Randstad, does not mean stop. It means "OK, go on then, a couple of you can whiz on through, no worries. Go for it." An amber light means "slow down, you're about to see a red light" in other countries. In the Randstad, it means "Speed up! You CAN make it. Go go go!"

The NRC Next newspaper features a reader's question each day. Today Koen-Willem Toering asked which make of car gets the most traffic fines.

The Centraal Justitieel Incasso Bureau (CJIB - responsible for sending out the fines for traffic violations) had not actually tracked this data, but compiled a list of the top 20 makes of cars subject to fines in the last 5 years, especially for the NRC. 58 million records of "minor" offences were used to generate the list.
The list does not take in to account the number of each brand of car on the Dutch roads, simply the total number of fines. Top of the list: Volkswagen Golf. Surprised? Hm, cough, no not really. However, in defence of Golf drivers, it is the most popular car driven in the Netherlands so quite likely to figure somewhere at the top.....
Golf drivers are followed by Opel Astra and Renault Megane drivers. Bottom of the pile came the owners of Opel Zafiras.

Other type of cars I would have expected to see near the top were actually in the middle to bottom of the list.... At the risk of alienating and offending, it is usually the BMW and Mercedes drivers that are stuck to our Zafira's (!) bumper on the motorway..........

Without a more specific breakdown of the figures (i.e. percentages as opposed to actual numbers) it is hard to make any firm conclusions about the type of car you can expect to see 'hooked' to your car in the rear view mirror. One thing is certain, if you have the pleasure of motoring in the Randstad you will quickly become acquainted with "bumperkleven"!

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