Infrastructure minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen is not planning to tighten up the rules allowing expats to trade in their driving licences for a Dutch one without taking a test first.
The Telegraaf reported that around 6,500 licences are exchanged under rules brought in in the 1990s to make the Netherlands more attractive for knowledge workers, such as the 30% tax ruling.
Christian Democrat (CDA) MP Jaco Geurts raised the issue in a debate in parliament on Tuesday. Van Nieuwenhuizen said she would ask police and prosecutors to study the implications for road safety, but would not intervene directly.
‘Many countries outside the EU obviously have no agreements with the Netherlands about exchanging driving licences, because the rules are completely different,’ Geurts told the Telegraaf. ‘But we make an exception for knowledge workers.’
Van Nieuwenhuizen has previously said she does not see any need to change the rules because there are no indications that expats are more likely to be involved in accidents, but Geurts said this was impossible to know because no specific records are kept.
‘It would seem sensible to me to build in an extra check requiring people to show that they have mastered the theory and practice.’
Rob Stomphorst, of road safety group Veilig Verkeer Nederland, said the situation was ‘potentially lethal and intolerable’. ‘We need to stop this immediately if it’s clear that inexperienced people are taking to the roads.’
Driving instructor Shelley Kashyap said some expats took lessons even though they already had their licences because they were unsure of the Dutch traffic rules. ‘They don’t know anything,’ she said. ‘They’re time bombs on wheels if you look at it from the point of view of traffic safety.
‘I have to start from scratch with them, which means learning how to change gear, steer and brake.’
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