The Unexpected Traveller: Driving quirks in Belgium

The Unexpected Traveller: Driving quirks in Belgium

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Driving in a foreign country is a tricky road to travel. Master the Belgian roads by learning to drive like a local with these five quirky tips for driving in Belgium.

Don't you just love the feel of an open road, wind in your hair, music playing and the promise of a destination ahead? If you do, driving in Belgium may not be the best option for you and I'm not just talking about the weather.

Here are five hard-earned lessons that I discovered about driving in Belgium.

1. The rule of 'priorite a droit'

The dreaded priorite a droit means that you should give way to anyone approaching from the right. This means that if you are on a major thoroughfare and someone is chugging his way on a country lane and is about to join your route, he has the right of way if he's approaching from the right. You'll need a overly sensitive right foot until you get used to this.Tips for driving in Belgium

2. Traffic lights: red means...

The important thing to note about traffic lights is that if you manage to overstep the line before they turn red, then you're clear. This is mainly because of the cameras perched on top of the lights that cannot catch your number plate if you've moved beyond a certain point. It also explains the large amounts of gridlock in city centres.

3. Getting linguistically lost

Make sure that you know how your destination is spelt in both French and Dutch. Due to the language problems that they have, you may think that you haven't seen a sign yet when in actual fact there would have been plenty, just in another language.

4. Cruising in the fast lane

The general rule on the motorways is that you should not hog the fast lane. Judging by the reactions I get, you should not hog the slow lane either. The middle lane can annoy people so perhaps the best thing to do is just move from one lane to another as often as you can.

5. For the love of parking

Belgian drivers assume that a car's bumpers are meant to show when you've hit the car in front of you while parking. If you care for your wheels, I'd find a garage for them if I were you.

I would also recommend a colourful vocabulary as it can be handy from time to time.

 

Reprinted with permission of The Unexpected Traveller.

The Unexpected TravellerThe Unexpected Traveller, who occasionally answers to the name of Antoine, works in the murky world of IT where he does lots of stuff he can't explain to his grandparents. He travels, for fun or for work or for funny work, and enjoys noticing that the world is full of odd and strange wonders. He writes about his stories and encounters on his blog. You can find unexpectedness as it happens on Twitter or spot him lurking on FacebookPhoto credits: lxsocon (photo 1), oksidor (photo 2).

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3 Comments To This Article

  • Bill posted:

    on 20th November 2013, 17:19:51 - Reply

    I seem to remember hearing Belgium called the "Sicily of the North" regarding Belgians' propensity for flouting the rules. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the redeeming qualities of Sicily: sunshine, excellent cuisine, full-bodied red wines and Commissario Montalbano and his beautiful olive-skinned girlfriends.
  • Antoine posted:

    on 14th November 2013, 08:32:50 - Reply

    Very true Pieter - there is a particularly casual attitude to driving. It's almost as if Belgium were more Mediterranean ...
  • Pieter Stek posted:

    on 13th November 2013, 20:13:32 - Reply

    Priority for right exists in other countries too, e.g. the Netherlands. The really fundamental problems with driving in Belgium, explaining its relatively high mortality rate, is bad roads, bad sign posting and bad drivers. A casual attitude to the rules is more common here than in countries like France, Germany, and the Netherlands.