The D1 motorway – the Czech Republic’s main highway between Prague and Brno – doesn’t exactly have the best of reputations.
As the busiest highway in the country, and also one that seems to be in a perpetual state of repair, it can often see lengthy traffic jams and delays.
That was especially the case yesterday: as snowstorms hit much of the Czech Republic, motorists were met with hours-long delays and traffic came to a standstill. Drivers reported delays of up to seven hours, and the economic impact was estimated to be in the range of hundreds of millions of crowns.
For Czech officials, the situation is nothing new.
“During the time of the snow flurries, the D1 problems repeat every year,” said Transport Minister Dan Ťok, as reported by iDnes.cz. Ťok blames truck drivers for the situation on the motorway.
According to Ťok, the truckers remain stopped on the side of the highway when they reach their allocated driving limit, a situation backed by Česmad Bohemia, the local trucker’s union. But it should be their responsibility to leave the highway.
Among Ťok’s proposals for helping the situation: a complete ban from trucks driving in the left lane, which should ensure, at least, that maintenance vehicles can pass them was traffic reaches a standstill.
“At this point, I’m able to send you pictures of highway cameras where you can see the trucks in all lanes,” says Jan Rýdl, spokesman for the Road and Motorway Directorate (ŘSD), who maintains the D1 and is responsible for clearing the snow.
“As soon as the traffic comes to a standstill, the trucks block the road, so there can be no winter maintenance.”
The situation on the D1 is especially complicated because road work has continued into the winter months, and lanes are narrow in many areas – leaving little space for maintenance vehicles to get by.