TODAY: The worst, and best, days to drive in Europe this summer. French police lie in wait for Gumball3000 (though the bodywork of one car defeats a radar trap). Support for Gothenburg’s congestion charge grows. The Danish postal service is slammed for ‘social dumping’. Ad-hoc taxis are definitely illegal in Spain while an Elk threatens to commit hirvikolari in Helsinki this morning.
GIBRALTAR FRONTIER WATCH: queues hit 3h30 by early afternoon. Quiet morning and evening.
HOLIDAY TRAFFIC: HOT AND COLD DATES THIS SUMMER
Dates you do not want to be driving on the Continent this summer – and dates you do.
Traffic prediction is not unlike astrology, avoid ‘black’ days and only leave the house when the stars align. It’s only marginally more scientific, subject to the vagaries of the weather, the World Cup and drivers actually heeding the advice in articles like this.
Even if their forecasts have been considerably less accurate than the Germans, Swiss and Austrians so far this year, be in no doubt that Saturdays 2, 9 and 16 August will be horrendous on French roads as drivers take off for the coasts and the south. The first weekend will be the worst. Conversely however, the only black return day is Saturday 16 August – really, do not drive through France on this date.
This is no consolation for those already booked for a changeover Saturday but consider postponing for one day if possible. Quiet roads are predicted for Sundays 10 and 17 August. They are merely orange ‘busy’ on Sunday 3 August.
If you do have to travel on the busiest days the advice is to leave as late as possible. Motoring organisation ANWB is telling Dutch motorists to delay departure until after 16:00. Traffic definitely peaks early to mid-afternoon.
The only other option – sorry there are no clever traffic avoiding detours – is to invest in the Liber-T tag to pass through the automated lanes at toll booths. It’s easy to use, quick to get hold of and relatively cheap.
The last three weekends in July and the first three in August will see ‘very heavy traffic congestion’ in Germany. That’s absolutely no joke as the roads are busy enough even on ‘normal’ days and it starts early and finishes late. However, by weekend the Germans mean Friday and Saturday. The respective Sundays are by no means quiet but traffic tails off. The good news is that by Sunday 17 August the summer rush is all over.
Every Saturday from 28 June until 13 September is a black day in Switzerland – apart from Saturday 2 August (though it will still be busy). On all these days traffic will be heading both north and south.
The classic pinch point is the Gotthard Tunnel. See here for gentle ways to avoid it at peak times.
Other black days include Friday 25 July heading south and, coming the other way, on Sundays 17, 24 and 31 August and Sunday 14 September. From then on however that’s pretty much it until Christmas.
Like the others, Austria’s busiest days are all Saturdays. The rush starts 12 July and lasts straight through until 23 August as drivers pour over the German border heading either for the mountain resorts in western Austria or further south to Italy (on the A13>A22 Brenner motorway).
Interestingly, this past Pentecost weekend was the first test of two important upgrades together. The refurbed tunnel at Bregenz has already proved itself in action. So too it seems has the newly spruced B179 Fernpass, across the border from the A7 autobahn at Fussen and Neuschwanstein. There were queues on Saturday morning but they peaked at one hour, much less than before it was resurfaced last month.
BLACK DAYS SUMMARY:
France: Saturdays 2, 9 and 16 August drivers departing and Saturday 16 August returning.
Germany: from 12 July every Friday/Saturday very busy until 16 August. All over Sunday 17 August.
Switzerland: every Saturday from 28 June until 13 September is a black day except Saturday 2 August. Also Friday 25 July heading south and Sundays 17, 24 and 31 August and Sunday 14 September heading north.
Austria: every changeover Saturday from 12 July until 23 August will be very busy.
See our weekly roundup of traffic predictions from France, Switzerland, Germany and Austria, including average fuel prices. Click here for this weekend’s.
roundup: SWEDEN. Support has increased for Gothenburg’s formerly highly controversial congestion zone – from 33% when it was introduced in 2012 to 50% now according to the latest survey. The news comes ahead of a local referendum in September on whether to keep the scheme. Traffic has been cut by 13% overall. There’s still no word if and when it will apply to foreign cars. DENMARK. Post Danmark has been heavily criticised by TranMin Magnus Heunicke for employing eastern European drivers on a quarter of the wages of the locals, so called ‘social dumping’. SPAIN. Paying the driver in car share schemes is strictly illegal says the government in a clarification though, as in France, reimbursing for expenses is acceptable. FINLAND. Hirvikolari is the Finnish word for a traffic accident with an Elk. Several near hirvikolari were recorded in central Helsinki this morning when an unfortunate member of the species rampaged through the city streets before meeting its end at the hands of a police marksman.