Munich named traffic jam capital of Germany (again)

Similar to in 2016, in no other German city last year were motorists stuck in traffic jams longer than in Munich, according to a study released on Tuesday.

Munich named traffic jam capital of Germany (again)
A traffic jam in Munich. Photo: DPA

The Bavarian city claims the title of traffic jam capital in Germany for the second year in a row, the study called “Traffic Scorecard” by traffic data provider Inrix shows.

Of a total of 73 German cities, findings of the Inrix study indicate that motorists in Munich spent the most amount of time in traffic jams in 2017 – 51 hours; four hours longer than in 2016.

Hamburg and Berlin meanwhile recorded the most significant increase, with both cities now ranking in second and third place, respectively.

In Hamburg and Berlin, drivers now spend about 44 hours per year in traffic jams. Motorists in Hamburg conversely spent 39 hours in traffic jams in 2016; in Berlin 38 hours. Stuttgart claimed the traffic jam capital title in 2015.

READ ALSO: Hamburg named German state with most congested motorways

Motorists across Deutschland spend an average of 30 hours a year in traffic jams, the study states.

There is some good news though. In Heilbronn, drivers spent an average of 19 percent less time stuck in traffic than in the previous year. Authors of the study attribute this to an increase in budget to maintain road quality in Baden-Württemberg, the completion of many construction projects and the opening of a bridge in Heilbronn last summer.

Regarding the increase in time spent in traffic jams in Munich, according to the authors of the study, this can mainly be attributed to the high number of construction sites it has at important intersections.

The direct and indirect costs caused by congestion on German roads amounted to €80 billion in 2017 – about €1,770 Euro per motorist, the study moreover states.

“Traffic jams cost Germans over €30 billion per year, threaten economic growth and impair quality of life,” said Dr. Graham Cookson, chief economist at Inrix.

According to an Inrix spokeperson, in Würzburg – outside commuter hours in the morning and early evening – motorists waste more time in traffic jams than anywhere else in Germany.

This has an impact on businesses, tradespeople and delivery traffic, the spokesperson said.

Inrix’s Traffic Scorecard analyzed a total of 1,360 cities in 38 countries. Los Angeles tops the worldwide ranking with motorists in the American city now spending around 102 hours stuck in traffic. 

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COMPARE: Which countries in Europe have the strictest drink-drive limits?

Certain countries around Europe have stricter policies than others regarding drinking and driving and harsher punishments for those caught exceeding legal limits. Here's what you need to know.

COMPARE: Which countries in Europe have the strictest drink-drive limits?

European countries set their own driving laws and speed limits and it’s no different when it comes to legal drink-drive limits.

While the safest thing to do of course, is to drink no alcohol at all before driving it is useful to know what the limit is in the country you are driving in whether as a tourist or as someone who frequently crosses European borders by car for work.

While some countries, such as the Czech Republic, have zero tolerance for drinking and driving, in others people are allowed to have a certain amount of alcohol in their blood while driving.

However, not only can the rules be different between countries, they are usually stricter for commercial (or bus) drivers and novice drivers as well. Besides that, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is extremely difficult to estimate, so the old “one beer is ok” standards no longer safely apply.

In the end, the only way to be safe is to avoid consuming alcohol before driving. Any amount will slow reflexes while giving you dangerous higher confidence. According to the UK’s National Health Service, there is no ‘safe’ drinking level.

How is blood alcohol level measured?

European countries mostly measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is the amount, in grams, of alcohol in one litre of blood.

After alcohol is consumed, it will be absorbed fast from the stomach and intestine to the bloodstream. There, it is broken down by a liver-produced enzyme.

Each person will absorb alcohol at their own speed, and the enzyme will also work differently in each one.

The BAC will depend on these metabolic particularities as well as body weight, gender, how fast and how much the person drank, their age and whether or not (and how much) they have eaten, and even stress levels at the time.

In other words there are many things that may influence the alcohol concentration.

The only way to effectively measure BAC is by taking a blood test – even a breathalyser test could show different results. Still, this is the measuring unit used by many EU countries when deciding on drinking limits and penalties for drivers.

Here are the latest rules and limits.

Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Greece, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, and Croatia

In most EU countries, the limit is just under 0.5g/l for standard drivers (stricter rules could be in place for novice or professional drivers).

This could be exceeded by a man with average weight who consumed one pint of beer (containing 4.2% alcohol) and two glasses of red wine (13% alcohol) while having dinner.

If a person is caught driving with more than 0.8g/l of blood alcohol content in Austria, they can pay fines of up to € 5,900 and to have their license taken for one year in some cases.

In France, if BAC exceeds 0.8g/l, they could end up with a 2-year jail sentence and a € 4,500 fine. In Germany, penalties start at a € 500 fine and a one-month license suspension. In Greece, drunk drivers could face up to years of imprisonment.

In Denmark, first time offenders are likely to have their licences suspended and could be required to go on self-paid alcohol and traffic courses if BAC levels are low. Italy has penalties that vary depending on whether or not the driver has caused an accident and could lead to car apprehension, fines and prison sentences.

In Spain, going over a 1.2g/l limit is a criminal offence that could lead to imprisonment sentences and hefty fines. 

Norway, Sweden, and Poland

In Norway, Sweden, and Poland, the limit for standard drivers is 0.2g/l. It could take a woman with average weight one standard drink, or one can of beer, to reach that level.

Penalties in Norway can start at a one month salary fine and a criminal record. In Poland, fines are expected if you surpass the limit, and you could also have your license revoked and receive a prison sentence.

Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia

The Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia have one of the strictest rules in the European Union. There is no allowed limit of alcohol in the blood for drivers.

In the Czech Republic, fines start at € 100 to € 800, and a driving ban of up to one year can be instituted for those driving with a 0.3 BAC level. However, the harshest penalties come if the BAC level surpasses 1 g/l, fines can be up to € 2,000, and drivers could be banned from driving for 10 years and imprisoned for up to three years.

This is intended to be a general guide and reference. Check the current and specific rules in the country you plan to travel to. The easiest and best way to be safe and protect yourself and others is to refrain from drinking alcohol and driving.