Can you get a fine for driving with an open tailgate?

And how far can your load extend?

Unfortunately, the human brain is not equipped with an imaginary ruler. As a result, we sometimes overestimate the length of our cars. When an object such as a pine tree that still needs to be decorated or a brand new corner sofa is just too long, you will have to come up with a solution. Driving that bit with the valve open is possible, right? Can you actually get a fine for driving with the tailgate open?

We submitted this question to the ANWB. The short answer to the question is, no: 'Driving with an open tailgate – or tailgate window – is not prohibited by law. There is no article of law that deals with this or explicitly describes it," says the spokesperson. There are a number of rules regarding the load you carry.

Load may protrude one meter

'The load may legally extend a maximum of one meter behind the car. An officer will not easily approach you if the top of a sealed Nordmann sticks out a bit from the back of the car. If you exceed one meter, you can be fined," says the ANWB. Does your load protrude between 1 and 1.75 meters? Then the fine is 160 euros. Are you using even more space? Then the fine increases to 240 euros.

Or tie your Christmas tree to the roof, like The Grinch does here | Photo: © Hennessey

Furthermore, the load must be properly secured with tension straps. "Transporting loose in the trunk or with elastic or other unsuitable mounting material is not an option," says the spokesperson. The way in which the man in the photo at the top of this article transports his belongings is therefore not acceptable here. In addition, there are other situations that can cause you to be fined.

More situations for a fine for driving with an open tailgate

You can be fined if you endanger yourself or other road users. 'For example, the police can fine if a car drives around with a load that could cause additional injury to other road users (including motorcyclists) in the event of a collision.' The police then speak of danger, just like when you drive around with a rejected spoiler or cracked exterior mirror. The fine amount varies. There is an example where the fine was 227 euros and another situation where the guilty person had to pay 1,000 euros.

Do you want to avoid a fine for driving with an open tailgate? Then just rent a van or a trailer, the spokesperson advises. 'That may cost a few euros, but it also buys off any risk.'

And the ANWB has another tip. 'A car that runs on fossil fuel emits harmful exhaust gases. With an open tailgate, exhaust fumes are sucked into the interior. Set the ventilation setting to maximum and open a window slightly to maintain some of the air quality in the car.' Very fresh for the occupants – and the pine tree.