ADAC balance sheet: Standstill, around the world 22 times – that’s how long Germany was stuck in a traffic jam in 2023

Last year, nothing went on German motorways for the equivalent of almost 50 years.

ADAC balance sheet: Standstill, around the world 22 times – that’s how long Germany was stuck in a traffic jam in 2023

Last year, nothing went on German motorways for the equivalent of almost 50 years. The duration of all traffic jams and stalled traffic was a total of 427,000 hours in 2024. This emerges from the ADAC traffic jam balance, which the automobile club published this Tuesday.

This means that the duration of traffic jams is longer than that of the previous year (333,000 hours), but below that of the pre-Corona year 2019 (521,000 hours). According to the survey, the total length of all traffic jams last year was 877,000 kilometers, 22 times the circumference of the earth.

The ADAC considers traffic jams to be all events in which people drive slower than 20 kilometers per hour on motorways; In slow traffic, the speed is less than 40 kilometers per hour.

The ADAC describes a good dozen motorway sections as particularly congested, the top 5:

Drivers were particularly plagued with traffic jams on the motorways in the Ruhr area.

Traditionally, traffic on German motorways builds up, especially in summer, with the peak occurring in July. In the main travel month, traffic jams lasted 43,700 hours. June, August and September were at similar levels.

The five most congested days were in 2023:

Over the year, Wednesday and Thursday were the busiest days of the week, with an average of 1,500 hours of traffic jams each. The traffic jam peak was regularly the rush hour between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.

In total, the ADAC recorded 691 traffic jams that were at least 20 kilometers long last year, after 383 in the previous year. These were the front runners:

There were many reasons for traffic jams or stalled traffic. According to the ADAC, traffic jams are particularly common when lanes disappear or become narrower, often caused by construction sites. In 2023, there were between 800 and 1,500 construction sites on the German motorway network at the same time, around half of them in North Rhine-Westphalia alone, which was particularly plagued by traffic jams. Other causes of traffic jams were:

The Germany ticket, which was launched on May 1, 2023, has had no positive effect on the development of traffic jams, according to the ADAC. Only four percent of the users of the service are new customers of local public transport - so there are few people switching. In addition, the ticket is not attractive for anyone who lives or works in rural, structurally weak regions. “The train is not an alternative for some car drivers.”

Leave or stay on the highway? It depends, says ADAC traffic expert Jürgen Berlitz. In smaller traffic jams during rush hour, it is rarely worth leaving the motorway, "because everyone knows the alternative routes, which is why they are overloaded." It is different with full closures. "Get down quickly, otherwise I might be trapped there for several hours." However, leaving the motorway to avoid a typical holiday traffic jam only makes sense if you have information about alternative routes.

The experts at the automobile club say: no. The volume of traffic is expected to continue to rise this year - and with it the number and length of traffic jams. The dilapidated infrastructure is also likely to further slow down the flow of traffic. "More than 4,000 bridges will have to be replaced with new ones in a timely manner in the next few years," says Berlitz. "If this doesn't work, further, long-lasting full closures and traffic jams will result."

Last year, the automobile club processed around 278 billion data sets with speed and position information, for example from trucks or smartphone users, which was supplemented by construction site information. An up-to-date picture of the situation on German motorways is created every ten minutes.

Sources: ADAC, news agencies AFP and DPA