One of the Christmas presents nobody wants is the expected congestion on federal highways and Germany’s Autobahn later this week. Millions of Germans intend to spend the holidays with their families. First, they will have to get through the traffic chaos.
Berlin, December 20th, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — When Chris Rea sang his hit song ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ in 1988, was he even aware of what he was getting himself into? Do the Germans know what to expect now, 44 years later? Many might regret they chose to see their parents, siblings, kids or other relatives by car once they are stuck in all the traffic the General German Automobile Association (ADAC) is predicting.
Bad and Worse
The first problems will pop up on Wednesday, December 21st, 2022, the first day of the Christmas holidays in Baden-Württemberg and Saxony-Anhalt, two of Germany’s sixteen federal states. Traffic jams on the Autobahnen (plural) around Ulm, Heilbronn, Karlsruhe, Stuttgart and Freiburg are a foregone conclusion. The same applies around Magdeburg.
Then, on Thursday, December 22nd, 2022, things will get a lot worse, because Berlin, Brandenburg, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Hither Pomerania, Saarland, Saxony and Thuringia will be on holiday too, meaning the situation on the Autobahn will not exactly improve. By Friday, all states except for Bavaria will be on holiday. But this does not mean the Bavarians will not contribute to the chaos on Germany’s roads on Friday afternoon. They definitely will.
According to the ADAC, the roads should be sort of quiet on Christmas Eve and the first of two Christmas Days German Christians observe. But on the 26th, people will start to return home. Ready for the first piece of good news? The homeward bound traffic will be bad, but not quite as chaotic as the traffic jams expected this week. That is because people will be returning at some point between December 26th, 2022, and January 7th, 2023, which is when the last federal states end their Christmas vacations. This means the homebound traffic will be spread over a period of almost two weeks.
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Starting this week, all major Autobahnen will be affected by those traffic jams, including the A1, A2, A5, A6, A7, A8 and A9. Yes, the ‘Berliner Ring’ is waiting for a pretty bad mess too. By the way: At this moment, there are 798 construction sites in the German Autobahn network. Will they speed up the traffic? No.
People who made reservations at Deutsche Bahn, other train operators or who got themselves flight tickets are the lucky ones. The same applies to those who refrain from going anywhere.
Expatriates, migrants, tourists and other visitors should be reminded of a German peculiarity they will be affected by: All shops, except for some convenience stores and emergency supermarkets in big cities, are generally closed on Sundays and official holidays. On the second Christmas Day, Monday, December 26th, 2022, all shopping sprees need to be cancelled. But many restaurants will be open. The same applies to gas stations.