2018 sees record traffic jams

Summary

Drivers spent a long time sitting in traffic on Belgium's roads this year, with the problem slowly spreading to secondary roads – though the number of seriously long queues has fallen

No end in sight

Traffic queues reached record levels in 2018 – and there’s not much chance of things improving in 2019. A study by motoring federation Touring showed that there were 1,588.5 hours of traffic queues stretching more than 100km on the country’s roads, up from 1,400.4 in 2017.

Queues are growing on secondary roads, particularly outside rush hour, De Tijd reports. There were a total of 1,042 hours of 50km-plus queues measured between the hours of 10.00 and 15.00 during the year. A year ago, the figure was 870 hours. “This evolution is explained by the fact that journeys are more spread out and people realise that for non-essential trips, it’s best to avoid the rush hour,” Touring said in a press release.

The number of seriously long queues – more than 400km of stationary vehicles – fell in 2018, however, from 15 hours to five. “The longest queues are mainly caused by snow or heavy rain,” said the organisation, “but because 2018 didn’t see much wintry weather, the queues were limited.”

The record traffic jams came as no surprise to motoring association VAB. “We’d already predicted the trend in the summer,” spokesperson Joni Junes told VRT. There were various reasons for the growth, including a number of serious accidents involving lorries and an increase in people enjoying days out by car.

In the coming years, Junes does not expect to see an improvement, in part because of the construction of the Oosterweel connection on the Antwerp ring road. The current planning sees the works continuing until 2026.

In related news, the Flemish government this week announced its intention to introduce a kilometre tax by 2024 throughout the region, for every vehicle on every road. The aim is to reduce vehicle use and spread it throughout the day.

Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga

Traffic in Flanders

Thousands of commuters and foreigners pass through Brussels and Flanders each day, and the two regions have suffered from heavily congested traffic and long and frequent traffic jams for years – with no end seemingly in sight.
Record - According to the 2013 report from traffic information platform Inrix, Brussels and Antwerp have the most traffic congestion of any city in Europe and North America.
Calendar - October is the worst month of the year for traffic jams.
Causes - Year after year, heavy snowfall and railway strikes lead to monster traffic jams. Heavy congestion, infrastructure works and multi-lane accidents cause the more ordinary daily tailbacks.
1 285

largest area covered in traffic ever recorded in Belgium in kilometres

70

time Antwerp drivers spend in gridlock per year in hours

10 000

traffic diversions in Flanders per year