Road congestion

  •  30/11/2021
  • objective 
  •  assessment 
  •  SDG-I  

In 2017, the average Belgian car driver spent 39 hours and 22 minutes in traffic jams. To achieve the sustainable development goal by 2030, this figure must decrease. Between 2014 and 2017, the trend is undetermined (assessment of November 2021).

The chart will appear within this DIV.

Road congestion - Belgium and international comparison

hours per average driver

//: Average Growth Rates

European Commission (2020), Hours spent in road congestion annually, (consulted on 19/11/2020).

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 2017, Belgium is the country where this indicator is the highest among the 25 EU27 countries (there are no data for Cyprus and Malta). Finland has the lowest congestion (18.1 hours per year). In the 3 neighbouring countries, this indicator is around 30 hours a year in 2017.

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.


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