The Netherland is set to become the slowest country in the EU when it slashes speed limits from the current 130 km/h limit on motorways to just 100 km/h (62 mph). In a reluctant move, the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte has announced plans to reduce speed limits on its motorways during the daytime in a desperate bid to meet EU pollution targets.
as the EU’s slowest driving nations with maximum speed limits (although only applicable during between 6am and 7pm) of just 100km/h, although Cyprus has far fewer motorways and much less congestion. When we look at the top 10 EU countries by population, the Netherlands is set to become the nation with the slowest speed limit, while Poland remains the fastest at 140km/h.
Speed Limit (km/h)
* Some sections of Autobahn in Germany have no speed restriction
** Netherlands currently 130km/h, 100km/h limit due in 2020.
When is the Netherlands cutting motorway speed limits?
The changes are due to come into force on March 16th, 2020. Infrastructure changes are underway to ensure the motorway network and drivers are ready for launch with a 4 day window from 12-16th March 2020 being allocated for physical signage installation to take place across the affected motorway network. If you are using the motorway network in the Netherlands after the speed limits have been cut, expect policing to be strict in the early days. If renting a car in the Netherlands
, getting a speeding ticket in a rental car
will result in the fine being passed to you from the rental agent, plus an administration fee.
Will cutting speed limits reduce emissions?
Generally speaking, the faster you drive the less efficient it becomes, using more fuel and increasing emissions. The primary factor is air resistance, the amount of work required by the engine to push the car through the air increases exponentially with speed, requiring more effort (fuel). A reduction in maximum speed is also claimed to reduce congestion which will also lead to a reduction in emissions. Whilst it’s difficult to put an exact figure on how reducing the speed limit from 130 to 100 km/h will reduce emissions, the European Environment Agency (EEA) published a report in 2011 suggesting that cutting speed limits from 120-110km/h for Euro 4-compliant petrol and diesel models could see a reduction of 18% and 12% respectively, so a cut in speed from 130km/h to just 100km/h is likely to see even greater reductions, up to as much as 30%.
Figures are hotly disputed as the EEA conceded that its figures were based on an assumption of smooth driving and not necessarily real-world driving, however its data was based on a 10km/h reduction in speed rather than the 30km/h reduction the Netherland will experience. The graph below shows the effect of speed on NOx emissions.
Source: Smithers, Richard & Harris, Rachel & Hitchcock, Guy. (2016). The ecological effects of air pollution from road transport: an updated review.