November 20, 2023
2023 is the heaviest traffic jam year in more than ten years. More accidents, road works and more trucks cause a lot of traffic misery, especially in the province of Antwerp.
The evening rush hour of Tuesday, November 14 was the busiest of the year. The rest of 2023 was also exceptionally busy. The traffic jams on Flemish roads in the first ten months of this year were the heaviest in terms of size and duration since the start of measurements in 2011. This is evident from an analysis by De Tijd, based on data from the Flemish Traffic Center .
The severity of traffic jams was on average greater than in the pre-Covid period. October 2023 equaled the traffic levels of October 2019. A traffic jam record was reached in March, April and May. July and August were also incredibly busy for this time of year.
Nowhere were the traffic jams as heavy as in the province of Antwerp. The province is the only one to achieve record figures and significantly increases the Flemish average. In Brussels, traffic jam figures are also increasing again year after year after the decline during the corona pandemic. The figures are still below pre-pandemic levels for the time being.
More traffic jams, less traffic
Despite the increased traffic jams, no more kilometers were driven. On average, the traffic performance, which gives an idea of how much traffic circulates on average, was lower than in 2019. That was the record year.
Trucks take up more space on the road than cars.
Flemish Traffic Center
Peter Bruyninckx of the Flemish Traffic Center notes that the share of freight traffic has increased. ‘Trucks take up more space on the road. They are very prevalent on certain highway routes.” In the province of Antwerp there is twice as much freight traffic as around Brussels.
In addition, there were more traffic accidents every day than in the last ten years. Their numbers have doubled since 2011 to 20 per day. Figures from the Roads and Traffic Agency show that there were also more highway works than in recent years.
Longer evening rush hour
The main focus of the traffic woes is in the evening. Compared to 2019, the evening rush hour has become 21 percent heavier. The morning rush hour, on the other hand, remained at approximately the same level.
According to Bruyninckx, this is mainly due to recreational travel. ‘We spontaneously think of crowds due to commuters, but the share of recreational trips is much larger. That traffic often leads to traffic jams in the middle of the day and extra pressure during the evening rush hour, especially in the structural traffic jam zones.’
But other factors also have an impact. ‘Bad weather almost always causes delays. The fact that last Tuesday’s evening rush hour was so busy was largely due to the rain.’