October 31st 2017 represented the day the traffic congestion broke a record in the Netherlands, with approximately 1,600 km of traffic jams, according to the ANWB.

According to the ANWB and as reported by the NOS, various factors played a role in that night’s traffic, such as the fact that the holidays are over, and the car accidents provoked that same day. Also, German tourists drove to the Netherlands on this date, especially towards Arnhem. October 31st was also the day when the record of 928 km of traffic jams from 2016 was broken. Why is this happening? And most importantly, is this a trend to stay?

As reported by the Volkskrant, the economic growth in the Netherlands is also spurring growth in cars purchased. This issue also produces an increase of traffic of 1.7 percent this year, according to the KiM (the Dutch Institute for Mobility). According to this source, and in the words of Ben Immers, a Traffic and Infrastructure professor at the University of Delft, the traffic grows even harder than the growth of cars purchased.  The transportation capacity is currently at its limit, and on top of this, the traffic jams occur, which means that the traffic pressure grows at a fast pace. These issues add to the fact that not many extra lanes are scheduled to be added until 2022. These factors do not only cause traffic congestion but also a 3% increase in time lost last year. If translated into euros, this represented a loss of approximately 2.8 billion euros in 2016.

What could be done to lessen the issue? According to Immers, the solution would not be the addition of more lanes, but rather the economic sanctions that the government establishes for road users during rush hours. This type of strategy means that people would save up if they drove outside these busy periods. However, Dutch drivers have also expressed their preferences. A drivers’ survey ran by the ANWB in 2016 showed their preferred traffic-reduction approach: A road lane for trucks. Improving the public transportation was selected as their 2nd preferred solution and avoiding the home-office traffic as the 3rd one. Several successful programs are already running in the Netherlands to reduce the car use during rush hours in the Netherlands, such as NoSpitsToday and inBeweging programs.