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Confused.com guide to driving in Belgium

Canal in Brugge, Belgium

Getting started

Belgium has such an impressive network of toll-free, well-lit motorways that it would be tempting to tear through the country without stopping.

To do so would be a mistake because it’s only when you get onto the picturesque back roads that the true beauty of this charming little country reveals itself.

Hit the road

Despite the ease of getting around, Belgium does throw up some traps for the unwary. The rule of giving way to vehicles merging from the right invariably confuses British drivers, as does the use of both French and Flemish names on road signs. If you don’t have a good map, you’ll wonder why, as you pass through the country, Mons has suddenly become Bergen, and Tournai switched to Doornik.

The use of speed cameras and radar traps has been stepped up recently, with fines payable on the spot. If you dispute a fine, you’ll have to pay a surety greater than the fine itself, or risk having your car impounded.

Belgium operates a sliding scale of penalties for drink-driving offences. If you’re at the 50mg blood-alcohol limit you can be fined €137.50 and have your licence confiscated for three hours. Over 80mg - the UK limit - and you’ll be liable for €550 and a six-hour suspension of your licence. Refusing to pay these spot fines can result in a much heavier fine. If the authorities decide your case is serious enough to warrant prosecution you could face a fine of up to €11,000.

Star drive

In Southern Belgium there is an association of 22 villages that call themselves Les Plus Beaux Villages de Wallonie. You can tick off some of the finest of these on a gentle circuit of the province of Namur. Head along the beautiful Meuse and Molignee valleys to find cutesy gems such as Falaen, Crupet and Celles.

Best of the rest

The N30 rolls prettily across the hills between Liege and Bastogne and is the scene of Belgium’s most famous and toughest cycle race. By car it’s a lot easier but just as beautiful. From Bastogne you can then delve into the Belgian Ardennes along the N834, N833 and N898.

Laws of the land

  • All car passengers must wear seatbelts if fitted
  • Passengers under 18 years of age and less than 1.35m tall must use an approved seat restraint system whilst in the car. If using a rear-facing child seat in the front, the passenger side airbags must be deactivated. A third child may use the back seat with a standard seatbelt only if two child seats are already in use in the back and there’s not enough room for a third
  • Dipped headlights must be used in poor daytime visibility
  • You must carry a warning triangle
  • Vehicles approaching from the right always have priority unless signs indicate otherwise
  • Horns should not be used in built-up areas, except in emergencies
  • You must give way to trams
  • Dial 100 in an emergency
  • You can be fined for using a mobile phone whilst driving (‘hands free’ phones are OK)
  • Motorcyclists must dip their headlights during the day and wear crash helmets (including passenger)

Belgian speed limits

Road type

Speed limit

School areas

30 kmh

Urban areas

50 kmh

Outside built-up areas

90 kmh

Dual carriageways with central reservation

120 kmh

Motorways

120 kmh (minimum 70 kmh)

Local knowledge

If you’re sitting in stationary traffic with your engine idling you may get dirty looks from other drivers. The law says you should switch off unless "absolutely necessary".

In some built-up areas parking is in designated "blue zones". To park in one you must first buy a disc from a filling station, garage or police station.

Did you know?

It’s illegal to leave a dog in a parked car in Belgium.

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