Bonn. July 12 marks the start of summer holidays in North Rhine-Westphalia. It will be peak travel season in nearly all of the states across Germany and one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. Here is what you need to know.
German Automobile Association ADAC expects one of the busiest travel weekends of the year at the beginning of the summer holiday season in NRW. Friday, July 12, is the last school day before the summer holidays - which will fall over almost all of Germany (with the exception of Bavaria and Baden-Würtemberg). According to ADAC figures, nearly half of all Germans still go on vacation by car so traffic jams are inevitable on the first holiday weekend. Last year the ADAC counted 1,150 traffic jams on the first weekend of summer vacation with 2,123 kilometers of traffic at a standstill - and that was only in NRW.
According to NRW road officials, Friday is the worst day to set out on the road. "Of course everyone wants to leave," says Volker Gronau from the traffic center in NRW. On Saturday and Sunday the traffic situation will calm down. However, if you want to leave on Friday, you should not leave until around 7 pm. The heaviest traffic is expected between 1 pm and 6pm, also on weekends.
Existing construction sites might also cause problems for traffic. For example, on the A1 between Westhofener Kreuz and Dortmund/Unna as well as on the border to Lower Saxony at the Lotte/Osnabrück junction, the risk of congestion is very high. Those who want to avoid the traffic jam should also avoid autobahns 1, 2, 3 and 61 according to the ADAC. These are still the most congested roads in NRW. Also particularly affected are, according to NRW Roads, the routes leading to the coasts, such as the A31 or the A40. According to the ADAC, there are currently more than 120 construction sites in NRW.
“Leaving the motorway and driving on country roads is rarely an advantage”
The ADAC recommends to leave early in the morning or late in the evening, then the chances are better to reach your destination with fewer traffic jams. "In any case you should start your journey well-rested and plan for enough breaks", says the ADAC. If you do get into a traffic jam, leaving the motorway only makes sense if it is more than ten kilometers long. "In case of a traffic jam, leaving the motorway and driving on country roads is rarely an advantage. The alternative routes are also quickly congested," says the ADAC. However, the ban on trucks, which is in effect every Saturday from 7 am until 8 pm until the end of August, could make things easier. NRW Roads also wants to remind people that a rescue lane must always be formed when traffic is backed up.
Congestion throughout Germany at the start of the holiday season
Motorways to the North Sea and Baltic Sea
A1/A3/A4 Kölner Ring, A1 Bremen – Hamburg – Puttgarden, A2 Oberhausen – Hannover – Berlin, A3 Köln – Frankfurt – Nürnberg, A4 Erfurt – Dresden – Görlitz, A5 Hattenbacher Dreieck – Frankfurt – Karlsruhe – Basel, A6 Metz/Saarbrücken – Kaiserslautern – Mannheim, A7 Hamburg – Flensburg, A7 Hamburg – Hannover – Kassel – Würzburg – Ulm – Füssen/Reutte, A8 Karlsruhe – Stuttgart – München – Salzburg, A9 Berlin – Nürnberg – München, A61 Mönchengladbach – Koblenz – Ludwigshafen, A93 Inntaldreieck – Kufstein, A95/B2 München – Garmisch-Partenkirchen, A99 Umfahrung München
Where you will find the most construction sites
A1 (Köln – Dortmund – Osnabrück), A2 (Recklinghausen – Dortmund), A3 (Köln – Kreuz Ratingen-Ost), A4 (Aachen – Köln), A40 (Duisburg – Essen), A42 (Duisburg – Herne), A45 (Hagen – Olpe), A46 (Neuss – Wuppertal)
Traffic jams also in neighboring countries
According to ADAC, travelers will also face increased traffic volumes in neighboring countries. Problematic routes include the Tauern, Fernpass, Brenner and Gotthard routes as well as the main roads to the Italian, French and Croatian coasts. Before going on holiday, motorists should inform themselves about the traffic and entry regulations of the holiday destination. Most European countries dole out stiffer punishments for traffic offenses than in Germany.
Airport will have extra personnel
Cologne/Bonn Airport is also expecting the biggest crowds on the first weekend of the summer holidays: "This is the biggest wave of travel of the year," says Alexander Weise, spokesperson at Cologne/Bonn Airport. Passengers travelling by air should be prepared for fuller terminals, and more time needs to be planned for getting to the airport. Travelers can find out about waiting times at security checkpoints on the Internet at www.koeln-bonn-airport.de/fluege or in the airport app. "We will also provide extra personnel," says Weise.
Taking your kids out of school to get a jump start on vacation travel is not really an option. Those who take their children out of school before the official holidays risk a fine. "An extension of the school holidays by a leave of absence of the children directly before or after the holidays is not legally allowed in NRW”, according to education officials in Bonn. "All pupils are obliged to attend school until the last day of school before the holidays.”
(Orig. text: Jana Fahl, Translation: ck)