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Driving in Belgium

We just returned from a trip to Europe which included two days of driving in Belgium. We paid close attention to the speed limits but felt like a road hog with the rows of cars that followed closely behind us. Somewhere in Brugge, we must have been going with the flow and found a $300 ticket included with our Avis bill when we returned home. Lesson learned: better to upset the locals than to drive like them.

Posted by
29255 posts

Yup, as I think I have mentioned here before, Belgians do tend to drive in your back seat, regardless of speed, and have a few other interesting habits.

Sorry to hear about your fine. That sounds a bit high for normal fines. Were you in a bus lane, or running a light, or still going highway speeds after entering village limits? That sounds more like what run up something that high....

Posted by
1762 posts

Best is to remain calm. I live a few km from the Belgian border and very often hit their roads and Belgians are omnipresent here either. It´s truth that a part is always in a hurry (especially during rush hour) and show less patience for those willing to respect the rules. They don´t respect the rules and so don´t in fact respect their fellow road users. So there is actually no real base to be worried if you annoy them, but nevertheless they can disturb you and you will be the one to make the mistakes, hence your hefty fine.

Sometimes it can feel menacing and then I a go a bit with the flow not to make myself highprofile and a target of agression, hope for the best but feel very uncomfortable doing that. But as said in the beginning, remain calm. It works best for me if I don´t bother what others do and think of me, just being focussed on safe and relaxed driving and following the rules as much as possible, claiming my rightful space. If I act reasonable I can expect that from others and if not I have a good reason to make a point in case of a discussion. My last speeding ticket in Belgium dates back more then twenty years ago. Ofcourse mainly I´m familiar with the situation and mentality and learned through the years to deal with it.

Your unlucky fine must be a so called “superboete” in other words a hefty fine for serious law violation, maybe it was a place with a 30km/h speed limit near a school and for instance 50km/h is not directly a high speed but way enough I think to get a serious fine like you got.

Posted by
6033 posts

Let's also note that rental car companies often add an Administrative Fee (otherwise known as "profit") when they process a special charge for a renter. Someone recently posted about a $30 fee for a $6 toll, because they didn't take the Transponder Package with their rental. (The car had a transponder anyway.) Maybe the OP could tell us if an Avis fee was visible?

My friend who works for a business travel agency says that there are more problems with Avis than any other car rental companies, so beware!

The Belgians tailgate you because they know where the speed cameras are and know better than you what they look like.

For your next trip, you should get yourself a SatNav that includes information on speed camera locations. You can buy these from stores like Media Markt in Belgium and other countries.

Posted by
12040 posts

The biggest difference is that the locals know where the flitspalen (speed cameras) are.

Also, many tourists may not realise it, but when you see pass the signboard that shows the name of the town, it not only means you have entered the town, but that urban speed limits now apply. There may not be a speed limit sign to indicate the change.