The VRT’s Traffic Expert Hajo Beeckman told VRT News that “The total number of jams on our main roads is continuing to increase. There were peaks of more than 400 kilometres of jams on more occasions than in 2016.
The most important causes were wet autumn and the winter weather in December. In places where there are jams every day, like the areas around Brussels and Antwerp, the travel times are now occurring outside peak times.
This is mainly a result of the morning rush hour jams taking longer to clear and leisure traffic”.
The situation is worsening with time. In 2011 it was still exceptional that the total length of jams exceeded 400km. In fact it did so for just 20 minutes during the entire year. In 2017 there were 400 kilometres of traffic jams for a total of 15 hours.
Rain and above all snow cause traffic chaos
The two peak moments for traffic jams this year both occurred outside the rush hour. In both cases this was around 11am. This was on Sunday 10 December when the was a total of 755km of jams and on Monday 11 December when at one point there were jams totalling 1,294 km on the region’s motorways and highways.
However, it must be noted that stretches of motorway/trunk road where motorists are travelling slower than 50 km/h are considered to be suffering from traffic jams. In adverse weather motorists often slow down which means that some of the “jams” recorded during snow storms, heavy rain of fog might not be jams at all, but simply motorists slowing down.
In half of all cases high jam-levels during the morning and evening rush hours are caused by rain.