False alarm for Dutch motorists on Monday morning

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The Traffic Information Service slams the ANWB Dutch motoring association for issuing yet another false rush hour alert.

24 November 2008

THE NETHERLANDS – The ANWB Dutch motoring association issued its first "rush hour alert" on Sunday, anticipating traffic jams totalling as much as 500 kilometres in length on Monday morning, after a few centimetres of wet snow.

To make things worse, a derailment in Amsterdam meant train services to and from the capital were seriously disrupted.
On Monday morning, commuters appeared to have heeded the advice and left home early.

As a result there was no sign of the predicted chaos on the roads and no scenes of stranded passengers at Amsterdam’s railway stations, although many trains were delayed.
So what happened, did the "rush hour alert" work? Or was the ANWB too quick off the mark in issuing one?

The Traffic Information Service, however, did not go along with the ANWB alert. It predicted a busier than usual rush hour but not the possibility of jams reaching such an extreme total length (longer than 500 kilometres). On its website the information service said "large quantities of snow are not expected to fall during the rush hour and the temperature of the tarmac is high, so normal gritting should keep the roads clear."
As it turned out traffic jams started earlier than normal with a total length of 150 kilometres at 6.45, which is 50 kilometres longer than usual at that time. But by 8 o'clock, tailbacks totalled just 300 kilometres, less than usual. After that, the worst of the congestion was over.
Nevertheless, it is not entirely surprising that the ANWB issued the warning. There have been nine deaths on the roads in the past week due to the poor weather conditions.

In November 2005, the authorities were caught out completely when heavy snow led to a jam of 900 kilometres. People were left stranded in their cars and ultimately had to spend the night in sports halls and other such accommodation.

Since then the Meteorological Office has issued several weather alerts but the weather conditions turned out not to be as treacherous as expected.

Last year, questions were asked in Parliament’s Lower House after five weather alarms were issued in one year. Christian Democrat MP Joop Atsma calculated the cost to the economy as being worth tens of millions of euros.

On this occasion, the Traffic Information Service has criticised the ANWB: "The ANWB should be well aware of its social responsibility."

It says the alert has done more harm than good. In response, the ANWB has called the service's criticism "sour".

[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]

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