Police Warning: Road surface Blow-ups on the German Autobahns increasing due to the hot weather

As the temperatures here in Bavaria are expected to reach 40 C (104 F) today I would like to provide a short article to inform travellers about a relatively new term being used by the German Emergency services: ‘Blow-ups‘. For those more familiar with the English language these have nothing to do with tyres blowing up – they refer to the surface of the autobahn ‘Blowing-up’ or raising dangerously during hot weather. As you may get some unusual photos if you try searching on Google for ‘hot weather blow ups in Germany‘ I have included some ‘appropriate’ photos to illustrate this problem.

Blowup on the Autobahn - heat damage to German Roads
Blow-ups on the Autobahn – heat damage to German Roads

The problem is found mainly in the South of Germany where the temperatures tend to get higher and occur on autobahns (motorways or freeways) which have been made from concrete. This method of construction was used in the past when the anticipated levels of traffic on these roads was much less than it is today. In addition the infrastructure in some areas has been damaged by the recent years’ heavy flooding. Some of the worst stretches in Bavaria, for example on the Autobahn A3 between Passau and Regensberg, have been overhauled in the last couple of years. However others, for example on the A92, A93 and A94, still have areas which are prone to the occurence of blow-ups.

The German motoring organisation ADAC has reported on its website that last year between June and July there were 30 blow-ups reported compared with only 5 in the previous last year. The frequency therefore appears to be increasing. One motorcyclist has already lost his life as a direct result of an accident caused by a blow-up.

2 Blowup on the Autobahn - heat damage to German Roads
Blow-ups on the Autobahn – imagine suddenly being confronted with this

The damage is caused where the concrete surface of the road expands due to the hot weather conditions and raises or buckles as shown in these photographs. According to a report from the Autobahn Direction for Southern Bavaria 160 Km of the local 1200 motorway network is affected (13%). Motorways based on asphalt are not so prone to these problems and those in the middle and North of Germany are unlikely to have to endure such extremely high temperatures.

The smaller road network (the B roads in Germany) is finished in asphalt and therefore blow ups are not likely to be such an issue.

Once the temperature reaches above 28 C the problems start to become critical and above 30 C speed limits of 80 Km/hour are imposed in the areas likely to be affected.

Blowup on the Autobahn - heat damage to German Roads
Blowup on the Autobahn – heat damage to German Roads

To minimise the risk of accidents drivers are advised to exercise extra caution during extremely warm weather and get local traffic reports. The link to the ADAC site for updates is here (the site is in German – you need to put into the box ‘name’ the name of the Autobahn you will use – e.g. A 92).

Motorcyclists are advised to try and avoid the dangerous areas. The worst time of day for damage to occur is in the afternoon. For German readers a link to an information article in the press is here.

If you are driving through Bavaria – welcome! Have a safe trip and enjoy the fantastic countryside.

Chris Duggleby

If you are interested in reading my other health focused articles try the following

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