Congestion figures in Belgium beat all records
Belgians have been stuck in traffic this year longer than last year. This is the conclusion of a study by the Touring auto federation. In total, there was 1.588,5 hours (or 66 full days) more than 100 kilometres of traffic jams on Belgian roads this year, compared to 1.400,4 hours in 2017. In other words, the first eleven months of 2018 we stood still for about 925.000 hours in Flanders, that is already 12.000 hours more than in the whole of 2017.
Short structural traffic jams increase
According to Touring, traffic jams on secondary roads are growing, especially outside rush hours. This increases the number of short structural traffic jams between 100 and 250 kilometres, traffic jams that have nothing to do with incidents or weather conditions. Between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., there were 1.042 hours more than 50 kilometres of traffic jams this year – a year ago that was ‘only’ 870 hours.
By contrast, the number of very long traffic jams has decreased this year compared to 2017. The longest traffic jams, with more than 400 kilometres of cars stuck up in traffic jams, are usually caused by snow or rain. Because 2018 was a year without many winter showers, those traffic jams were rather limited.
More traffic jams outside rush hours
“During rush hours the number of traffic jams stagnates or decreases, but over the whole day there is a big increase”, says Danny Smagghe of Touring. “We mainly see that the number of short traffic jams continues to rise, while the very long traffic jams remain the same or even decrease.”
“This is because many people consciously choose to go to the office outside rush hours and postpone unnecessary or leisure travel. The result is that more traffic jams occur during off-peak hours.”
Mobility organization VAB does not expect that there will be any improvement in the traffic jams in the coming years due to, for example, works on the Oosterweel connection (normally they will be completed by 2026). In addition, the vehicle fleet in Belgium also continues to increase (+ 1,2%) and we step into our cars more often for recreational excursions.
The Flemish government wants a mileage tax to be levied everywhere in Flanders by 2024. The intention is that it will apply to every Flemish road and to all vehicles. With this measure, the Flemish government hopes to reduce car use and spread it better during the day. The Walloon Region then seems to favour a flat-rate vignette system.