The number of road users is almost the same as before the corona crisis.

But major rush hour traffic jams are still out, because traffic spreads much more throughout the day.

The chance that large traffic jams will be broken this autumn, as has been the case in recent years, seems nil.

Life for traffic jam readers has changed due to the corona crisis, Arnoud Broekhuis of the ANWB confirms.

"You do notice that the evening strikers have become a bit busier since the holidays are over," he says.

"But it's actually about a few delays of up to ten minutes every day."

Broekhuis continues: "The bulletins with hundreds of kilometers of traffic jam on Dutch roads are no longer there."

Last Monday there was only 4 kilometers of traffic jam at 07:00, something that was unthinkable a year ago.

The figures from Rijkswaterstaat show that a large part of road traffic ceased in the third week of March, just after the introduction of the corona measures: there were suddenly 60 percent fewer road users in that week.

"That was the low point," says Diederik Fleuren of the road authority.

"Since then, traffic has increased slightly every week."

The National Road Traffic Data Database (NDW) reports that the road occupancy is 93 percent of the occupancy in September 2019.

Traffic spreads more throughout the day

A striking trend, however, is that traffic spreads more throughout the day.

Whereas before corona commuting daily in the morning and evening led to considerable congestion, those peak moments hardly seem to exist at the moment.

"This makes it feel much calmer on the road than before", explains traffic expert Fleuren.

"Corona has unintentionally offered a solution to an issue that the government has been struggling with for years."

NDW confirms this trend.

The average traffic intensity (the number of vehicles registered at official measuring points) is 5 percent below the 2019 average, but in rush hour this number is still 15 percent lower than before.

On the A2 between Amsterdam and Utrecht, a notorious road among rush hour drivers, this is about between ten and twenty thousand fewer cars per day on an average of about 190,000 cars per day using the A2.

Moreover, the distances that motorists now travel are considerably shorter;

these are often short journeys, in contrast to the intensive commuter traffic that dominated the roads before corona.

Traffic jam on the A16 near Rotterdam, before the corona crisis (Photo: VID)

'There are more traffic jams, but they cause less nuisance'

All traffic experts emphasize "not having a crystal ball".

But as long as the government's motto remains to work from home if possible, the chance that autumn will bring the traditional monster traffic jams is small.

"During the day there are on average more traffic jams than before corona," Broekhuis explains.

"But they are generally shorter and therefore cause less inconvenience."

Fleuren van Rijkswaterstaat cannot envision a road network without traffic jams.

"Many traffic jams are caused by, for example, an accident or a breakdown", he explains.

"They will always occur. But if it is not very busy on the road, there will not be a long congestion immediately because lanes are lost. And the chance of accidents is always greater when the weather is bad."

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'Increasing dissatisfaction with government protocols'

Traffic psychologist Gerard Tertoolen says less firmly that the traditional congestion on Dutch roads will not occur this autumn.

"The question is to what extent companies and citizens will continue to follow the government's motto of working from home," he warns.

"You notice more and more dissatisfaction with the government protocols. I can imagine a turning point in the near future when more people say: you can do something, I'll just go back to work."

Tertoolen observes the same rebellion when it comes to the new limit of 100 kilometers per hour.

"When I drive a bit, I am constantly being overtaken by people who press the accelerator on the left lane."

Moreover, according to the traffic psychologist, it should not be underestimated how unattractive public transport is for many commuters.

"The trains during rush hour remain relatively empty," he explains.

"People do not like to go by train; they find mouth masks annoying and yet are afraid of contamination risks."

He also points to the increase in second-hand car sales.

"I think a lot of people are preparing for winter, full of rain and cold. If everyone takes the car instead of the train in such cases, the roads can quickly become busier."