Things to avoid on the Dutch road
The first time I in the Netherlands was from the Fixx offices in Houten to my home in Vleuten. It was a sunny spring day and I hadn't started working yet. I didn't need to worry about getting lost or about rushing anywhere. I had heard some jokes about getting in on the wrong side of the car (Yes, I’m guilty of this), and about going in the wrong direction on a one way street (Fortunately, I’m not guilty of this). I didn't think much of this, after all, I had been driving for more than 10 years already, how different could it be?
It feels really weird...
Well, the difference was a lot greater than I expected. Don’t be alarmed or intimidated though, the road network is very well designed and easy to navigate. Before I dive into some useful tips, let me share some of my experiences.
It feels really weird driving from the left side of the car! For many years I had honed my abilities to judge distance from the right side. Suddenly, I found myself driving slightly more to the left of a lane. It was weird using my right hand to change gears. I sometimes reached for my seatbelt on the right. For the most part these things just make you feel silly. There was one thing that I should have taken more seriously, but didn't until it was too late; The traffic!
Shockwave traffic jams
In Cape Town, I rarely commuted in any serious traffic. When I did, it was easy to read the traffic patterns; I could tell when it would slow down, when it would speed up. I think this is because the roads have fewer lanes and because you usually had a clear view for quite a long distance of the road out in front of you (In the Netherlands, there are sometimes high walls alongside the highways to block the sound from traveling to nearby neighborhoods). Here in the Netherlands I encountered something I hadn't paid much attention to; sometimes the traffic goes from 130km/h to 0km/h, and then a few kilometers later it flows at 130km/h again. I am not quite sure why this happens, but it definitely is something to be mindful of. I was driving to work (my first week at a client) and I was heading into Rotterdam. The traffic was flowing at 70km/p and I was driving a little slower. I reached a stretch of highway with a slight bend. The was a wall along the side to which the road was turning (One of those sound barriers) and I decided to switch lanes. I spent probably about 5 seconds too long looking at my blind spot and when I looked in front of me again; there it was, the traffic had come to a standstill. I hit the breaks but it was too late. Needless to say I felt like a total idiot! I had learnt a valuable lesson about driving on highways a little too late.