Which are the costs of a traffic jam?

Mezuro’s data analist Johan Meppelink investigated the impact of road works.

For how long are we waiting in a traffic jam when there are road works going on? And which are the costs of these delays? These questions were answered in the Master thesis of Johan Meppelink. He finished his Master study Business Informatics last May with an A.

Johan-afstuderen1To establish the costs of a traffic jam, he had to take numerous steps. Firstly he had to prove that counts of vehicles on the road by GSM-data are as reliable  as the traditional counting loops in the road. Read here which steps he took in order to do so. The Mezuro Mobility Information can serve as a surplus and in time even as a replacement of these costly loops.

In the next step he managed to divide road users into three groups, based on their mobility behavior: recreational traffic, commuters and business travelers. This step was necessarily since the Ministry of Traffic and Transport uses different cost levels for these three groups.

As a case study he used road works at the A2 near Maastricht in the weekend of September 5th and 6th 2015. He compared this weekend to a reference weekend and could draw the following conclusions:

  • There were less road users on the effected road in this weekend compared to the reference weekend
  • The traveling time increased, with peaks on the Saturday afternoon and Sunday night.

Aantal mensen op de weg







Finally he calculated the social costs for this case. He divided the road users in three groups, based on their mobility behaviour: recreational users, commuters and business traffic. This produced the following price tag:

Kosten wegwerkzaamheden A2

The costs of these roadworks were about 34.000 euro.

600 roadworkswegwerkzaamheden

In his thesis Johan researched over 600 roadworks. He concluded that the impact of the announced road works on road users wasn’t as big as expected. The extended information in advance and the detours that are established by the Ministry of Traffic and Transport make most people choose another route or timing of their trip. The minimal delay of 30 minutes, that the Ministry in general predicts, is not reached.

The social costs aren’t as extensive as expected either. If all delays in September and October are converted into costs (in total 7552 hours divided over more than 600 road works), about 1.1 million euros can be charged as delay costs.

See also:

Will expensive counting loops in the roads be unnecessary in the future?

Mezuro Mobility Information for traffic modelling

These are the available mobility measurement characteristics