Dutch to replace 4 000 traffic signs for 100 km/h limit
The decision to bring the maximum speed on the Dutch highways down to 100 km per hour will cost the state 19 million euros. That’s the estimation made by the Ministry of Waterways and Public Works (Rijkswaterstaat, RWS). Earlier estimates expected an investment of about 7 million euros.
The Dutch recently decided to reduce the maximum speed on all highways in the country to 100 km/hour during the day, between 6 in the morning and 7 in the evening. At night, 130 km/hour will still be possible at places where this was possible until today.
More than 4 000 traffic signs and a lot of software need to be replaced in just a few days’ time. It will be quite a job and everything has to be ready by March 16th, when the new speed regulation starts. “Today, almost 800 people are busy with the daily preparations,” explains Diederik Fleuren of RWS. And those people are necessary since there is a lot more work than expected, he adds.
The legal maximum speed in the country remains 130 km/hour, but due to a traffic decision during the daytime, only 100 km/hour is allowed. And that is precisely what all those new traffic signs have to communicate to drivers and motorcyclists.
“For 18% of the road network, nothing changes,” Fleuren continues. “But on 82% of the 3 000 km of existing highways, the new traffic signs have to indicate that maximum speed during the daytime will be 100 km/hour. At night, nothing changes, and on most highways, people are allowed to drive at 130 km/hour.”
Police chief Egbert-Jan van Hasselt is not planning to provide additional capacity to keep a close watch on the new speed reduction. “I think the new measure is a blessing for traffic safety and we will probably need fewer checks. Our final goal is to change people’s behavior and make traffic safer.”
The new speed reduction is probably a temporary measure. The idea is to go back to 130 km/hour as soon as nitrogen emissions are acceptable again. It is not clear, however, when this will be. Minister of Infrastructure and Public Works, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen: “We can turn back the measure when our car fleet is greener or when other measures are available to reduce nitrogen emissions. It’s too early to say when we can do it, but if it were up to me, I’d rather change the situation today than tomorrow.”
Apart from the new traffic signs that have to be replaced for the new speed regulation, there is a proliferation of unnecessary traffic signs in the Netherlands. According to Veilig Verkeer Nederland (VVN), the country has about 600 000 redundant signs along the Dutch roads or 20% of all signs.
The reason for these ‘creative’ signs is that the managers of provincial and regional roads have the authority to place those signs. The redundancy, however, can lead to unsafe situations.