Road congestion

In 2016, the average Belgian car driver spent 38 hours and 49 minutes in traffic jams. To achieve the sustainable development goal by 2030, this figure must decrease.

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Road congestion - Belgium and international comparison

hours spent by average driver per year

//: Average Growth Rates

European Commission (2018), Hours spent in road congestion annually, (consulted on 04/10/2018).

Definition: the number of hours spent each year by an average car driver in traffic jams. Its calculation is based on 2 daily trips of 30 km (during the morning and evening peak hours) and 220 working days a year. This indicator is calculated on the basis of speed data from car navigation systems (Christidis and Ibañez Rivas, 2012). The data come from the European Commission.

Goal: road congestion must decrease.

The Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs adopted by the UN in 2015 include target 9.1: “Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and trans-border infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all”. The mismatch between the infrastructure and the users’ demand leads to transport network congestion, resulting in economic effects (longer trips and higher transport costs). Moreover, the mismatch limits the effective access to the infrastructure.

The Federal Long-Term Strategic Vision for Sustainable Development includes objective 22: “Every person will have access to a mode of transport of which the greenhouse gas and pollutant emissions, and the impact on biodiversity and quality of life are as low as possible” (Belgian Official Gazette, 08/10/2013). Transport network congestion has social (variable effects on different population groups, urgent transports blocked) and environmental (higher energy consumption and pollution) effects.

International comparison: with 39 hours a year in 2016, Belgium is part of the European countries where this indicator is the highest. Of the 26 countries considered (EU28 except Cyprus and Malta), only the UK shows a poorer performance. In the 3 neighbouring countries, this indicator is around 30 hours a year in 2016.

UN indicator: the selected indicator does not correspond to any monitoring indicator for SDGs but is related to target 9.1, because road congestion has an impact on “economic development and human well-being” and limits the effective access to infrastructures.


  • SDGs, Sustainable Development Goals: United Nations (2015), Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015, document A/RES/70/1.

  • Indicators: United Nations (2017), Work of the Statistical Commission pertaining to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 6 July 2017, document A/RES/71/313.

  • UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform: (consulted on 23/10/2018).

  • Sustainable Development Goal indicators website: (consulted on 23/10/2018).

More information is available in FR (French) and NL (Dutch).