Spain’s crisis cuts traffic jams by two thirds

Spain's economic crisis and mass unemployment have had a surprise positive side effect: fewer traffic jams on the country's roads. But things may be changing.

Spain's crisis cuts traffic jams by two thirds
File photo: Keng Susumpow

Greater prosperity and higher levels of economic activity usually mean more traffic on the roads, but Spain has been experiencing the opposite phenomenon in recent years.

Although regular commuters may not be feeling the joy, the time drivers spend in traffic jams has actually fallen by 63 percent since 2010 or during the country's crisis, a new study by Catalonia's new Royal Automobile Club (RACC) shows.

Barcelona has seen the greatest slide — down 76 percent in four years. That means drivers in the Catalan capital are now spending a much lower 15 hours a year in gridlock.

In Bilbao, Spain's most most congested city, drivers lose 24 hours a year in heavy traffic conditions. Madrid comes a close second with time spent in traffic jams at 23 hours.

The RACC study also found that Spain was third among 13 European countries looked at in terms of reduced traffic.

Only Portugal (86 percent) and Hungary (64 percent) saw their roads free up more.

But the RACC did also note that Spain's overall traffic decline slowed at the end of 2013. In what can be read as both good and bad news, the automobile organization is now predicting drivers will lose more hours this year.

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