Category Archives: Driving

Speed Limit and signs – Driving rules

The speed limit rules in Belgium are pretty simple to understand. Let’s first start with the default speed limits that apply throughout the country. When you enter the country by road you will see a huge sign, pictured below, stating the default speed limits. I’m going to explain what is shown on the board from top to bottom.

Sign stating all the default speed limits
Sign stating all the default speed limits

  • Atop the sign is the name of the country, here written in Dutch.
  • Outside of populated urban areas the speed limit is 90km/h. That is about 55mph.
  • Inside of populated urban areas the speed limit is 50km/h. That is about 30mph.
  • On roads with 2 lanes in each direction and divided by a wall of some sort, the speed limit is 120km/h. That is about 75mph.
  • On freeways, indicated by the freeway sign (see below), the speed limit is 120km/h. That is about 75mph.

Below is a list of the current traffic signs that have a speed limit implication.

There are two kinds of speed signs. Zonal signs are valid until they are canceled by another sign. Normal speed signs are valid until just after the next intersection. Every side street where traffic can come out of, is an intersection, not just crossroads.

  1. Zonal signs
    • Enter a populated urban area
      Enter populated urban areaThis is a zonal sign, this means that as long as you are inside the zone indicated by this sign, the speed limit applies. In this case the limit is 50km/h for populated urban areas. When you encounter the same sign with a red (or sometimes black) diagonal line through, then you have exited the zone and the limit no longer applies.
    • Enter an inhabited district with children possibly playing on the street
      WoonerfThis sign is used only on roads in heavily populated districts of the city, where children could be playing in the streets. This is a zonal sign and the speed limit that is implied is 25km/h (about 14mph). The sign is valid as long as you don’t see the same sign with a red diagonal through it.
    • Enter an area with a stated speed limit
      F4AThis is a zonal sign with a speed limit indicated, it is valid as long as you don’t see the same sign with diagonal sign through, in this case the diagonal is black, as it is normally with other non-zonal signs. This sign is mostly used with speed limit 30km/h (about 16mph) around schools. There is also an automated version of this sign that lights up when school children could be present (at scheduled hours). In that case the sign only applies when it is illuminated. When it’s off you can’t read it and thus it does not apply.
    • Enter a freeway
      Freeway signThis sign indicates the start of the freeway. On the freeway the default speed is 120km/h, unless otherwise stated by speed signs. Trucks that carry over 3,5 metric tons of weight are limited to 90km/h speed. The limit is mechanically enforced. On the freeways there are regular speed checks by the police.

  2. Speed Signs
    • Normal speed sign
      Speed SignThis sign is heavily used on all the Belgium roads. Outside of the populated areas the speed limit is mostly enforced with a 70km/h (about 44mph) speed sign.



All the images of traffic signs are in the public domain.

Priority to the right – Driving rules

Belgium has some very confusing rules about priority, or the right of way, when driving on the road, at least it will seem like that to non-Europeans. Let’s start with the default rule:

  • On an intersection, traffic coming from your right-hand side has priority. You have priority upon traffic coming from your left-hand side.

To clarify, an intersection is not only crossroads, it is any junction or side-road. To further clarify most intersections have signs that overrule the default ruling.

  • Exceptions: Signs showing you have priority.
    1. Diamond sign (B9):
      DIAMOND Belgian_road_sign_B9This sign is posted along the side of the road, it might be on top of another sign, like above the speed sign in the photo below. This sign indicates that the road next to it has priority on the next intersection. As with all non-zonal signs, this sign is only valid until just after the next intersection. So the sign must be repeated after the next intersection or it is no longer valid. This same sign with a black diagonal band on top it, cancels the priority. This sign is mostly used on provincial roads with multiple lanes. Click here for a real-life photo.
    2. Rocket sign (B15):
      Belgian_road_sign_B15This sign is widely used in urban areas, it is posted ahead of an intersection to show that you have priority. The sign can be adjusted a little according to the layout of the intersection. As with all non-zonal signs it is only valid until just after the next intersection.
    3. Layout sign (B0):
      Belgian_road_sign_B0This sign is mostly used at complex intersections. It is posted along side the road that has priority. The road that has priority is indicated by the thicker line on the sign. As with all non-zonal signs it is only valid until just after the next intersection.
  • Exceptions: Signs showing you don’t have priority.
    1. STOP sign:
      Belgian_road_sign_B5This one is easy, this is the same all over the world. It means you have to come to a full stop and you don’t have priority. You have to stop right at the location of the sign. Most of the time there is also a big white band on the road to indicate the place to stop. Click here for a real-life photo.
    2. Yield sign:
      96px-Belgian_road_sign_B1.svgThis sign indicates you don’t have priority and should slow down to check before continuing. You have to yield to other traffic. You don’t have to come to a full stop if not necessary. Usually the sign is accompanied by shark teeth painted on the road. Click here for a real-life photo.
  • Exceptions: other
    1. Roundabout sign:
      RoundaboutThis sign indicates that you are about to drive on to a roundabout. Cars already on the roundabout always have priority. Beware of bicycles, when the bicycle lane is on the roundabout road they have priority on all traffic, so look before you exit the roundabout. On newer roundabouts the bicycle lane is separated from the road and then there are small yield signs posted for the bicyclists. But beware most bicyclists will cross anyway.



Images of the traffic signs are in the public domain. Images used from Wikipedia. Photos are copyrighted.