“I was only speeding slightly”

As part of a long running campaign to make road users aware of their own influence on road safety the Dutch Ministry for infrastructure and the environment recently launched a new series of commercials. These ads run on national television.

It is very clear who is held responsible here. Drivers are directly addressed to reflect on their excuses for speeding.

There is no excuse for speeding when another person’s safety is at stake.

The overall slogan of the long running campaign translates as “Getting home safely, it’s in your own hands” (Veilig thuiskomen heb je zelf in de hand). Every year there is a new ‘sub’ campaign with new ads and new slogans. This year the catch phrase is: ‘Stick to the speed limits. There is no excuse for speeding in the built up area’. On the website with this campaign the Dutch authorities explain:

We all do it every now and then: speeding slightly. Sometimes fully aware, to catch up some lost time and sometimes unaware because we lost focus or we weren’t paying enough attention. Whatever the reason, (slightly) speeding is always very dangerous. Especially in the built up area where there are always unexpected traffic situations. And where you have to deal with vulnerable traffic users like children, elderly and cyclists. Not protected by airbags and seat belts they are the ones who have the largest risk to get seriously injured. Or worse…

The faster drivers go the bigger the damage they can do with their vehicle because it takes so much longer to come to a full stop.

Total distance to come to a full stop with a reaction time of 1 second and a braking deceleration of 7 meters per second.




Total distance

30 kph

8.3 m

5 m


35 kph

9.7 m

6.8 m


40 kph

11.1 m

8.8 m


50 kph

13.9 m

13.8 m


55 kph

15.3 m

16.7 m

32 m

60 kph

16.7 m

19.8 m

36.5 m

As can be seen from this table: in an emergency stop at 30 kph a car will have already stopped at the place where a driver at a speed of 50 kph only starts to brake! For a child on the road that can mean the difference between life and death.

This difference is reflected in the fines (2012):

# Km over speed limit

Fine in
30 km zone

Fine in
50km zone

Fine on
provincial Road

Fine on

5 km

€ 50

€ 32

€ 29

€ 28

10 km

€ 97

€ 65

€ 61

€ 57

15 km

€ 167

€ 122

€ 117

€ 110

20 km

€ 232

€ 173

€ 165

€ 155

So when driving 50kph in a 30kph zone – 31mph where 18mph is allowed – the driver pays a fine of 232 euros (US$305.74 / GB£191.72 / AUS$ 293.03).

Driving over 30kph over the speed limit means the driver’s license can be revoked and court will decide what happens with it.

All very reasonable in a country with so many vulnerable road users like cyclists who have to mix with motorized traffic in a 30kph zone. It is only with speeds over 30kph that traffic is split up. Only then there is specific infrastructure for motorized traffic and separated cycling infrastructure.

Getting home safely, it's in your hands
Getting home safely, it's in your own hands

18 thoughts on ““I was only speeding slightly”

  1. I had rented a car from Bonn, Germany. I went to Amsterdam. After 5 days the rental car office informed me that I had a fine for speed in Amsterdam. The speed 100km and I was driving 144km. The fine was €450. This is too high for that. I am aviator, my first time in Amsterdam. They better can reduce the amount of the ticket.
    Best regard

  2. I think you made a error. When you drive 30 km/h over the speedlimit you get a note on your drivers licence that will stay there for (I think) two years and the District Attorney will decide over the amount of the fine. If you drive 50 km/h over the speed limit your drivers licence is revoked and the DA will decide if you get it back.

    Check out article 164, section 2d of our Highway Code.

    http://wetten.overheid.nl/BWBR0006622/HoofdstukIX/Artikel164/geldigheidsdatum_13-04-2012 (Dutch)

    1. It’s different in the built up area: “Bij overtredingen van meer dan 30 km per uur binnen de bebouwde kom bepaalt de officier van justitie het boetebedrag. Bij dergelijke snelheidsovertredingen kun je ook je rijbewijs kwijtraken.”
      Meaning: Speeds over 30km above the speed limit in the built up area, then the DA determines the fine and you can also lose your license. When you drive over 50kph over the speed limit regardless where that is then you always lose your licence.

  3. Do you have speed cameras?

    Those traffic fines seem very appropriate: they are related to the potential outcome in harm to persons based on characteristics of the location where the speeding occurs.

      1. But the sad truth is that speed cameras are very seldom used in 30 km/h areas, at least in the part of the country where I live. The fines may be high but the chance of being caught is minimal. As the Dutch say: “Where are the cops when you need them?”.

      2. Frits is right that there are few, if any, cameras in 30 km/h zones.

        Many 30 km/h zones are not through routes by car. This means that cars are rare, and speeding cars even more rare.

        However, it works in those locations because the cars have been removed. Merely putting up a 30 km/h speed limit sign is no panacea in any country. Where through roads in the Netherlands have 30 km/h speed limits, speeding is rife. It has been acknowledged for at least three years that posting lower speed limits is not enough on its own.

        Of course, none of this should be a surprise to anyone. If Dutch drivers didn’t break the law then these ads would never have been made. Dutch drivers are really no more saintly than those of any other nation. However, in the Netherlands you experience few problems due to drivers because you very rarely have to deal with drivers as you cycle.

        1. It would take the cities finding out about a frequently (by Dutch standards) broken speed limit to put in a speed camera, and it would probably be in a school zone if they are put in. The Dutch road designers like to try to make the road self explanatory, including in terms of how fast to go, for each type. Motorways unfortunately have the issue that a road that is built like a motorway is hard to make self explanatory, which is why most speed cameras are located on motorways and other roads as big, like main city arteries.

      3. Some statistics: In 2010 from April 28 to May 4 in European contries police officers carried out a precautionary vehicle speed control. During the week a total of 664 703 cases of speeding were detected, among them – 416,792 offenses recorded by automated speed measurement systems.
        Most violations were identified: the Netherlands – 203 372, Germany – 190 137, France – 60 139 United Kingdom – 29 577, Spain – 24 206 and the kingdoms of Belgium – 22266, Kingdom of Sweden – 15 237.

        It seems, that in the Netherlands speed detectrs works flawlessly 😉

      4. Kedas, like most studies across national boundaries, this one raises as many questions as it provides answers. Do all these countries have the same number of cameras, in similar places ? Do all have the same procedures for the police ? Do all have the same speed limits in the same places ? No, of course they don’t.

        For instance, except for on motorways, speed limits in the Netherlands are in almost all cases lower than in the UK for similar types of roads. It should not be surprising that this could result in there being more speeding offences in the Netherlands, even if average speeds are the same.

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