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Traffic jams

Published on 12.04.2021

The right behaviour and attitude: Keeping everybody safe

The daily refrain on our airwaves: “an accident has paralysed traffic on the A4, 10 km of traffic jams”, “traffic slowed 4 km ahead of the tunnel”, etc.
Traffic forecasts and advice scattered across the media don’t always mean you’ll avoid traffic jams. The causes are often obvious (bad weather, roadworks, vehicle breakdown or accident), but you have to realise that inappropriate driver behaviour can cause slowdowns and even jams.
Here are a few useful pointers.

How do I avoid traffic jams?

If you want to avoid traffic jams, it’s important to find out about any possible problems or roadworks before getting in the car. You can do this by listening to radio traffic information regularly and looking at the ACL app, which tells you all about roadworks and accidents on our roads. Another alternative to avoid being stuck in traffic is to go by bike in good weather, which isn’t just good for the environment, but your health as well. Taking the teleworking option would be an obvious way to stay away from jams.

How do I avoid causing a traffic jam?

Avoid breaking down on the motorway by following a maintenance programme for your vehicle, having tyres that are in good condition and making sure you always have enough petrol for your planned journey.

What’s the right thing to do in a traffic jam?

When you’re stuck in a jam, it often feels like traffic in the next lane is moving faster, but it’s not the case. So, you gain nothing by changing lanes Quite the opposite: the risk of having an accident is greater. It’s also important to use all available lanes for as long as possible, then apply the zipper merge system when you go from two lanes down to one.

When do you need to leave a rescue lane?

From the first signs of slowing down, drivers need to leave a rescue lane between the traffic lanes for emergency and breakdown vehicles to reach the accident location quickly. You also need to remember not to rubberneck or take photos as you go past an accident: it’s no good to anyone and will only cause more jams and could even cost you dearly. 

Is it advisable to leave the motorway and take an alternative route?

Leaving the motorway as soon as a jam starts to develop is unfortunately common behaviour with motorists. It’s a sensible thing to do if only a few motorists decide to do it, but as soon as a larger number decide to take an alternative route, the same problem happens as with the motorway: many secondary roads aren’t designed for increased traffic, and new jams build up. 

Can I do a U-turn on the motorway?

Doing a U-turn or even reversing on the motorway are highly dangerous, and therefore prohibited.  These manoeuvres are only allowed if the police are on the scene and ask you to do them.

GSM & Cie:

It might be tempting to check your mobile messages when you’re in a traffic jam, but it’s against the law to use your phone without a hands-free kit while the engine is running. Such behaviour could not only cost you dearly, but would lead to a loss in concentration, which could even cause an accident. That’s why it’s important to leave a big enough safety distance between you and the car in front at all times to avoid a collision.

ACL explains it all in these two videos:


Phantom traffic jams



Rules for driving in traffic jams


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