camera flash, speed control Iconspeaker_3
[de flit-ser, de flit-sers]

When you drive on the Dutch highways, you’d better listen to the radio to get to know where you can expect speed controls. The machines registrating your speed are called "flitsers" or "flitspalen" ("flash-poles", see picture), derived from the verb "flitsen" ("to flash"); the machine gives a flashlight when it takes a picture of your license plate. You can also find many "flitsers" at traffic lights. These "flitsers" mostly check if you ignore a red traffic light. Besides speed controls on a fixed location, the police also controls speed on locations that vary each day. A "flitser" also denotes a flash on a camera.  Flitser_3

– "Er wordt geflitst op de A2 richting Amsterdam bij hectometerpaaltje 34.6." 
("There is a speed control on the A2 in the direction of Amsterdam at hectometerpole 34.6.")

– "Op de A9 staat een mobiel flitsteam bij knooppunt Kleinpolderplein." 
("There is a mobile speed-control team at junction Kleinpolderplein on the A9.")

– "Volgens mij werd ik geflitst toen ik door rood reed… weer een boete." 
("I think that the flashpole registrated my license plate when I went through that red traffic light… another fine."  [Lit.: "I think I was flashed when I drove through red …"])Flitser2_2

– "Als het donker is kun je beter een foto maken met flitser." 
("When it’s dark it’s better to take a picture using flash.")

Related words:
– Flitsen: to flash [verb] [flitste, geflitst].
– Flitspaal: flash-pole, pole registrating your license plate when you speed or drive through a red traffic light [de flitspaal, de flitspalen].
Stoplicht: traffic light [het stoplicht, de stoplichten].

4 thoughts on “Flitser

  1. Ah, it comes full circle now!
    I began my study of Dutch in July of 2007 by listening daily to BNR Nieuwsradio. Back then I understood absolutely no Dutch whatsoever. Because it was mentioned very frequently, “flitser” was the first word I was able to make out well enough to guess the spelling and google in order to learn it’s meaning. And now that my [casual] study has progressed enough to enjoy and benefit from DWOTD, my old friend flitser comes up!
    In case you’re wondering, the next words I was able to understand after that were “fijf een fijf, acht, fijf een fijf”, but only after first recognizing the sound of the words and their association with flitsers did I realize I was hearing numbers, and in fact part of the “BNR flitslijn” (020 5158515). It took a couple of weeks for me to realize that (cut me some slack, I’m from Texas). Fond memories!

  2. Hi Madeline,
    thanks for sharing this funny story! I’m quite a big fan of BNR-newsradio myself and was listening to it when I wrote this dwotd. The Van Dale dictionary does not give the meaning of flitser although everyone uses it. BNR also uses words such as “mobiel flitsteam” (“moving team that controls speed” and “agent met een lasergun” (“cop with a lasergun”) but that went a little bit too far, I thought.

  3. Hi,
    some cultural background that could be included into this post is the story of Radio 538, if I’m not mistaken orginally a pirate station on AM 538 MHz, well known for its music and flitser warnings. Now they are on FM, naturally, and I think they send flitser warnings via RDS display data as well. Not sure any other station does that.
    In terms of related words, I really like a word game used by a Dutch Police ad which warns of speed limit violiations in a really
    funny way:
    Als U hier langs flitst, flitsen wij terug!

Comments are closed.