As of next Wednesday afternoon, I will be a licensed driver here in the Netherlands. Yes, this morning I took (for the second time) and passed (for the first time) my Rijbewijsexamen!
As obtaining one’s Dutch license is difficult and expensive enough as it is, I thought I’d throw you a bone (it’s the only one you’ll get!) and share some tips:
- Forget the concept of “gradual acceleration.” They want you to instantly reach the higher speed as soon as you see the sign.
- Do not stop or slow down at shark’s teeth or yield signs unless you actually see something coming. Supposedly your slowing down obstructs the traffic behind you too much.
- Unlike in the US, you look in your mirrors and to the side before you put on your turn signal. This took me the longest time to get right!
- Cyclists have the right-of-way. Always. They know this and feel as though it makes them exempt from following any and all traffic rules and regulations.
- Always, always, always stay in the right-hand lane unless you are making a left hand turn on a multiple lane road. If there are more than one left-turn lanes, you must stay in the rightmost one.
- Always drive the posted speed limit and no slower unless it is dangerous to do so.
- On an equal crossing, the vehicle to the right has priority. Always look to the right at every intersection when traveling on non-priority roads. This rule also holds for bikes, mopeds, and motorcycles.
Know what to expect
Before setting foot in the vehicle, you will be asked to read the license plate number of a car across the parking lot from where you are standing.
Once you arrive at the test vehicle, you may be asked to pop the hood open. At this point, the examiner will ask you to identify the car parts under the hood. Usually, they skip this part and ask you to step into the vehicle right away. There, you will be asked to identify lights, gauges, and buttons inside the car.
Then, you’re off!
During the course of the exam from this point on you will be expected to: perform two special maneuvers; listen to a series of directions from the examiner which you will then be expected to carry out (cluster opdraag); drive on the highway; drive through a precinct; navigate the way to a specified destination using road signs only.
Be prepared to fail the first go around. The CBR seems to enjoy failing people at least once just out of principle. Good luck!
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