Last weekend the first "black weekend" on popular holiday destination routes in Europe saw almost 3,500 km of traffic jams form in Germany. This week, more people are expected to either leave or return from their travels, which could again block key roads.
Road assistance service VAB on Tuesday warned travellers that even though the summer holidays are halfway over, the traffic problems are not. They warned of another so-called "black weekend," referring to the colour codes on VAB's "busyness calendar" with black being the worst in terms of expected traffic jams. VAB repeated its travel advice to avoid long queues.
"People still think that they can avoid the traffic jams on black Saturdays by leaving early. This is not true," the organisation said, referring to the fact that by 09:00 last Saturday, some 300 kilometres of traffic jams had already formed in France; travellers lost almost three hours on the A7 between Lyon and Orange.
It suggested leaving on Sunday when driving south, althogh acknowledged that most holiday homes are rented from Saturday to Saturday. "If you really want to leave on Saturday, it is best to do so in the late morning." This means arriving at the destination later but with a shorter travel time.
France and Germany worst affected
A total of 872 km of traffic jams were recorded in France at the peak moment last weekend, the worst situation on the A7 to Orange and on the A10 to Bordeaux. On the way to the Spanish border, drivers sat in queues for up to five hours, mainly due to accidents and road works.
This "Autoroute du Soleil" (A6 Beaune - Lyon, A7 Lyon - Orange and A9 Orange - Spanish border) is once again expected to be worst affected on Saturday 6 August, as well as the A10 Paris - Bordeaux, in both directions. To avoid the roadworks on the A7, VAB recommends taking the route via the A75.
Last Friday, dramatic congestion was seen on German roads where a total of 3,446 km of traffic jams formed across the country. Saturday was much quieter than Friday, which VAB said is a pattern in the country this holiday season.
Meanwhile, the holidays in North Rhine-Westphalia end this week, and in Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Schleswig-Holstein next week. "Therefore heavy traffic is expected on the roads to the north due to returning traffic."
VAB warned travellers to avoid the main bottlenecks in Germany – the A8 between Karlsruhe and Salzburg, the A3/A9 from Frankfurt to Munich, the A99 around Munich and the border crossings with Austria – during the peak times. Delays are also expected on the A7 between Hamburg and Flensburg (Denmark).
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In Austria, traffic jams are expected at the Tauern tunnel and at the Karawankentunnel on the A10 and the A11. Meanwhile, in Switzerland, where traffic jams were mainly located near the Gotthard tunnel in the southern direction last week, traffic jams are expected in both directions this weekend.
More people are also opting for a car holiday to Italy from Belgium. This weekend, Italians also traditionally leave on their summer holidays, so it could be busy again this weekend on these roads as well.