My Belgian notes reminded me of more driving horrors I am shocked to have been able to put out of my mind!
With poor maintenance, potholes, terrible signage and very few places to turn around, the roads in Belgium are not the best in Europe – and that isn’t even mentioning a word about the drivers (I try not to generalize about people and their practices, but my goodness – Belgian drivers!).
A simple google search brings up a zillion results of people blogging and complaining about their driving experiences through Belgium.
Stats of car damage inflicted by Belgian potholes, tales of near death accident experiences, expats who have lived, worked and driven everywhere but won’t do so in Brussels (even I drove a motorbike without a license while I lived in southern Thailand – but was scared to DEATH driving in Brussels).
The rest stops are ‘well used’, mostly without toilet facilities and generally full of garbage and graffiti. Sure the highways are well-lit at night – and aside from one route, without tolls.
Personally, I would rather pay a small toll to ensure the regular maintenance of the roadways, though many people I have spoken to are not quick to agree.
After a few hours of circling Brussels, we didn’t even care which highway we got onto. We figured it would at least be possible to navigate our way in the right direction from a highway – any highway.
Once on the expressway, we were absolutely on the wrong course – and because of Belgium’s somewhat sub standard road works, we were unable to turn and ended up all the way in Leuven (the far opposite direction of our goal) before we were able to change direction.
If you are planning on driving in Belgium’s capital, be very cautious concerning the traffic, as congestion in Brussels is terrible and the city is reportedly quite dangerous to drive in. Thanks to Brussels, Belgium has one of the highest death rates per capita in traffic in the European Union. This is mainly due to the fact that many Belgians speed at drastic levels. Brussels’ R0 Ring is apparently a nightmare concerning traffic and averages at least one accident per day.
Will we drive through Belgium again? Yes, if it comes up, of course we will. We haven’t entirely learned our lesson – though we usually park at the outer edge of a major city and walk or transit in.
With our travelling style, driving is what works best for us. Would I suggest it to you? Not unless dangerous driving is your thing and you enjoy being under great stress.
There are so many other ways to navigate around Belgium, driving is not the method I would recommend.