Rettungsgasse

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Rettungsgasse

Post by EpicChef » Wed Feb 10, 2021 12:50

I recently found out that there's a weird autobahn rule for Germans, Austrians, and Swiss.

It's called the Rettungsgasse (or emergency lane), and is a formation that must be assumed by all vehicles in queueing traffic (no matter the reason for such queueing traffic) - on all motorways, expressways, and HQDCs.

It goes like this:

2 lanes:
If you're in the innermost lane, you move as far left as possible, right up against the median strip (Remember driving on the right).
If you're in the right lane (nearside lane next to the hard shoulder) you move as far right as possible (in Austria this means pulling onto the hard shoulder, but not in Germany).

3 lanes:
If you're in the innermost lane, you move as far left as possible, right up against the median strip (Remember driving on the right).
If you're in the right two lanes (two nearside lanes next to the hard shoulder) you move as far right as possible (in Austria this means the rightmost lane is pulling onto the hard shoulder, but not in Germany).

4 lanes:
If you're in the innermost lane, you move as far left as possible, right up against the median strip (Remember driving on the right).
If you're in the right three lanes (three nearside lanes next to the hard shoulder) you move as far right as possible (in Austria this means the rightmost lane is pulling onto the hard shoulder, but not in Germany).

The objective is that you leave a clear path for emergency vehicles, that is unbroken by intermittent hard shoulders.

Do you think this is a good idea to assume a similar formation with queueing traffic on motorways with no / intermittent hard shoulder? Why / why not?
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Re: Rettungsgasse

Post by Ruperts Trooper » Wed Feb 10, 2021 13:53

It's a great idea - but it wouldn't work in the UK as drivers don't have the same concept of discipline as the Germans - that may be a stereotype but demonstrably true.
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Re: Rettungsgasse

Post by JosephA22 » Wed Feb 10, 2021 15:32

Ruperts Trooper wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 13:53
It's a great idea - but it wouldn't work in the UK as drivers don't have the same concept of discipline as the Germans - that may be a stereotype but demonstrably true.
They introduced this rule in Poland about a year ago, based on the German model. Poles similarly are not known for their discipline or desire to follow orders, but there was a lot of publicity around it, and we would regularly see dashcam footage on the news from ambulances etc. being blocked by drivers not adhering to the rule (general sentiment: "look at this idiot"...). It quickly gained traction in the public conscience, and once the majority of drivers start to pick up on it, it stands out like a sore thumb when anyone doesn't follow the rule.

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Re: Rettungsgasse

Post by FosseWay » Wed Feb 10, 2021 17:04

It also exists in the Czech Republic, according to Wikipedia:
In Tschechien ist die Rettungsgasse ... seit Oktober 2018 genau so wie in Deutschland und Österreich zu bilden.
I drove the length of Germany in each direction in 2018 and noticed numerous banners hanging from overbridges, especially in the south, reminding drivers about the Rettungsgasse. But the only point where traffic was stationary - albeit because it was rush hour, not due to an accident - was on the approach to the Elbe tunnel at Hamburg, and here there was no obvious tendency of motorists to move to the sides.

The Swedes do tend to do this spontaneously, but there is no requirement or recommendation to do so as far as I know.
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Re: Rettungsgasse

Post by ravenbluemoon » Wed Feb 10, 2021 20:41

I like the idea, and a good explanation of how it works with 3 and 4 lanes. Never knew it was a thing until I hit some roadworks on the A1 near Osnabrück in August. As soon as traffic slowed to a crawl ahead of a 2 to 1 lane drop, everyone moved to the sides. Of course, being a fairly observant driver, I followed suit. So I think that if it was ever introduced somewhere, you'd eventually reach a critical point where most people do it, and as mentioned those who don't literally stick out like a sore thumb.

I was very impressed with the general discipline on the autobahns. Even though I'm a fairly quick driver, in places it seemed very rushed (particularly in an underpowered Rover 45) but it all felt pretty safe. I do prefer night time driving if I'm honest - much quieter!
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Re: Rettungsgasse

Post by Burns » Thu Feb 11, 2021 16:06

I encountered this on the Austrian A12 in 2019. Traffic was crawling along so everyone naturally moved to their correct positions and I followed suit, thinking that this is a great idea.

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Re: Rettungsgasse

Post by WHBM » Thu Feb 11, 2021 19:41

FosseWay wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 17:04
The Swedes do tend to do this spontaneously, but there is no requirement or recommendation to do so as far as I know.
I find that UK drivers tend to do this spontaneously as well, once the first emergency vehicle can be seen in the mirror to be coming through the middle. People stop with a distance from the vehicle in front, so there's manoeuvring room for all to slalom sideways. No need for a complex set of rules because it just gets done anyway.

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Re: Rettungsgasse

Post by EpicChef » Thu Feb 11, 2021 21:03

WHBM wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 19:41
FosseWay wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 17:04
The Swedes do tend to do this spontaneously, but there is no requirement or recommendation to do so as far as I know.
I find that UK drivers tend to do this spontaneously as well, once the first emergency vehicle can be seen in the mirror to be coming through the middle. People stop with a distance from the vehicle in front, so there's manoeuvring room for all to slalom sideways. No need for a complex set of rules because it just gets done anyway.
But I think people should get into this formation anyway whenever there’s a queue.

A standard 2X12 message sign can indicate:

“QUEUE - FORM
RESCUE LANE”

Where Rettungsgasse is translated as “rescue lane”.
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Re: Rettungsgasse

Post by roadtester » Sun Feb 14, 2021 14:32

The Rettungsgasse dates back at least the the 1960s - it was a necessity when almost the entire Autobahn network had only two lanes in each direction and much of it had no hard shoulders.

It was always very well observed. I think like lane discipline in general, where Germany also used to be very good, observance has frayed a bit with motorways that have three or more lanes in each direction, which has given some drivers a bit more choice than they can handle.
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Re: Rettungsgasse

Post by mikehindsonevans » Tue Feb 16, 2021 23:23

WHBM wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 19:41
FosseWay wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 17:04
The Swedes do tend to do this spontaneously, but there is no requirement or recommendation to do so as far as I know.
I find that UK drivers tend to do this spontaneously as well, once the first emergency vehicle can be seen in the mirror to be coming through the middle. People stop with a distance from the vehicle in front, so there's manoeuvring room for all to slalom sideways. No need for a complex set of rules because it just gets done anyway.
Agreed. This was a regular occurrence on the Berkshire/Oxfordshire A34 sections, northbound on Monday mornings and southbound on Friday evenings from 2006 through to 2014 when this was my regular weekly commute. The "middle space" opened up magically for the blue light services to flow through.
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Re: Rettungsgasse

Post by Micro The Maniac » Fri Feb 19, 2021 11:07

EpicChef wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 12:50
If you're in the right lane (nearside lane next to the hard shoulder) you move as far right as possible (in Austria this means pulling onto the hard shoulder, but not in Germany).
Having driven a lot in Germany, and aware of the protocol, the first time I encountered this in Austria, I was completely thrown by this use of the hard-shoulder.

But in many respects, it makes sense, given that the hard shoulder is contaminated with all sorts of crud making proceeding at speed arguably less safe.

The Rettungsgasse also counters the but what about in an emergency objection to the removal of the hard-shoulder on (ahem) smart motorways - see other thread!

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Re: Rettungsgasse

Post by EpicChef » Fri Feb 19, 2021 11:27

Micro The Maniac wrote:
Fri Feb 19, 2021 11:07
EpicChef wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 12:50
If you're in the right lane (nearside lane next to the hard shoulder) you move as far right as possible (in Austria this means pulling onto the hard shoulder, but not in Germany).
Having driven a lot in Germany, and aware of the protocol, the first time I encountered this in Austria, I was completely thrown by this use of the hard-shoulder.

But in many respects, it makes sense, given that the hard shoulder is contaminated with all sorts of crud making proceeding at speed arguably less safe.

The Rettungsgasse also counters the but what about in an emergency objection to the removal of the hard-shoulder on (ahem) smart motorways - see other thread!
Indeed.

I do think on smart motorways with intermittent or no hard shoulder, Rettungsgasse should be a thing.

In the UK I propose for it to be called the Rescue Lane.

Where there are AMI lane control signals, the right lane (eg lane 4) should display “move right” signal, and all others “move left”

Where there are only MS4s, the lane allocation diagram should show arrows parting - the lane 4 arrow bending right and then up again and all the others going left and then up again.

MS4 message signs should show the speed limit and message “form rescue lane”.

MS4 should display “Form rescue lane”
Smart motorways are like asbestos: they're the best option until suddenly they're not.

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Re: Rettungsgasse

Post by roadtester » Fri Apr 16, 2021 19:12

Just caught a snippet on the German TV news - if I heard it correctly, the maximum fine for failing to help form a Rettungsgasse is being increased from EUR200 to EUR320.

Obviously something you need to take seriously!
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Re: Rettungsgasse

Post by JosephA22 » Fri Apr 16, 2021 20:05

roadtester wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 19:12
Just caught a snippet on the German TV news - if I heard it correctly, the maximum fine for failing to help form a Rettungsgasse is being increased from EUR200 to EUR320.

Obviously something you need to take seriously!
I saw a German "motorway cops" type program on Polish tv the other evening, and the theme of this episode was the Rettungsgasse. The Polizei would drive down the gap when there was a traffic jam, until they got to the first vehicle that was out of line (not just blocking access completely, but anything that would cause an emergency vehicle to have to slow down if it was a real emergency). There was no friendly advice or "don't do it again". Just straight to the fine and off to catch the next miscreant.

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Re: Rettungsgasse

Post by Chris Bertram » Fri Apr 16, 2021 20:41

JosephA22 wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 20:05
roadtester wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 19:12
Just caught a snippet on the German TV news - if I heard it correctly, the maximum fine for failing to help form a Rettungsgasse is being increased from EUR200 to EUR320.

Obviously something you need to take seriously!
I saw a German "motorway cops" type program on Polish tv the other evening, and the theme of this episode was the Rettungsgasse. The Polizei would drive down the gap when there was a traffic jam, until they got to the first vehicle that was out of line (not just blocking access completely, but anything that would cause an emergency vehicle to have to slow down if it was a real emergency). There was no friendly advice or "don't do it again". Just straight to the fine and off to catch the next miscreant.
One instinctively wonders how much of that was for the benefit of the cameras.
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Re: Rettungsgasse

Post by exiled » Sat Apr 17, 2021 00:12

This comes across as similar to the 'Move Over Law' some Canadian provinces have. Probably elsewhere as well. The police, ambulance or recovery companies are on the hard shoulder on a D2+ you must move to L2 or further to give one lane empty between the moving traffic and the hard shoulder event.

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Re: Rettungsgasse

Post by roadtester » Sat Apr 17, 2021 07:46

Chris Bertram wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 20:41
JosephA22 wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 20:05
roadtester wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 19:12
Just caught a snippet on the German TV news - if I heard it correctly, the maximum fine for failing to help form a Rettungsgasse is being increased from EUR200 to EUR320.

Obviously something you need to take seriously!
I saw a German "motorway cops" type program on Polish tv the other evening, and the theme of this episode was the Rettungsgasse. The Polizei would drive down the gap when there was a traffic jam, until they got to the first vehicle that was out of line (not just blocking access completely, but anything that would cause an emergency vehicle to have to slow down if it was a real emergency). There was no friendly advice or "don't do it again". Just straight to the fine and off to catch the next miscreant.
One instinctively wonders how much of that was for the benefit of the cameras.
Just saw another report - apparently it gets you/can get you a one-month ban as well.
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Re: Rettungsgasse

Post by Conekicker » Wed Apr 21, 2021 15:17

EpicChef wrote:
Fri Feb 19, 2021 11:27
Micro The Maniac wrote:
Fri Feb 19, 2021 11:07
EpicChef wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 12:50
If you're in the right lane (nearside lane next to the hard shoulder) you move as far right as possible (in Austria this means pulling onto the hard shoulder, but not in Germany).
Having driven a lot in Germany, and aware of the protocol, the first time I encountered this in Austria, I was completely thrown by this use of the hard-shoulder.

But in many respects, it makes sense, given that the hard shoulder is contaminated with all sorts of crud making proceeding at speed arguably less safe.

The Rettungsgasse also counters the but what about in an emergency objection to the removal of the hard-shoulder on (ahem) smart motorways - see other thread!
Indeed.

I do think on smart motorways with intermittent or no hard shoulder, Rettungsgasse should be a thing.

In the UK I propose for it to be called the Rescue Lane.

Where there are AMI lane control signals, the right lane (eg lane 4) should display “move right” signal, and all others “move left”

Where there are only MS4s, the lane allocation diagram should show arrows parting - the lane 4 arrow bending right and then up again and all the others going left and then up again.

MS4 message signs should show the speed limit and message “form rescue lane”.

MS4 should display “Form rescue lane”
If many UK drivers can't obey a red X, what chance is there that more than 10% of them will understand and obey what they are being told to do. We'll ignore the fact this wouldn't work in a narrow lanes road work scenario.
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Re: Rettungsgasse

Post by Vierwielen » Thu Apr 22, 2021 22:36

EpicChef wrote:
Fri Feb 19, 2021 11:27
Indeed.

I do think on smart motorways with intermittent or no hard shoulder, Rettungsgasse should be a thing.

In the UK I propose for it to be called the Rescue Lane.

Where there are AMI lane control signals, the right lane (eg lane 4) should display “move right” signal, and all others “move left”

Where there are only MS4s, the lane allocation diagram should show arrows parting - the lane 4 arrow bending right and then up again and all the others going left and then up again.

MS4 message signs should show the speed limit and message “form rescue lane”.

MS4 should display “Form rescue lane”
An alternative to the text would be to have a the text "Accident", below it a flashing red cross on a white background (subject to red cross copyright problems) and below that an arrow indicating which lane was to be used for emergency vehicles. I trust that British drivers are not so stupid as to misunderstand such a symbol, especially if the adjacent lanes all lit up with speed limits.

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Re: Rettungsgasse

Post by Big L » Thu Apr 22, 2021 22:55

Vierwielen wrote:
Thu Apr 22, 2021 22:36
An alternative to the text would be to have a the text "Accident", below it a flashing red cross on a white background (subject to red cross copyright problems) and below that an arrow indicating which lane was to be used for emergency vehicles. I trust that British drivers are not so stupid as to misunderstand such a symbol, especially if the adjacent lanes all lit up with speed limits.
I admire your optimism. I've seen plenty of drivers zip along through red X signs. How much clearer does a sign need to be than that? How does one misinterpret a big red X?
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