A lane for the rescue services

A situation everybody is familiar with: a siren in the distance, the rescue services are on their way! I have to say that I have only ever witnessed disciplined motorists in this case, but the statistics tells another story. Quite often, such situations result in accidents as many motorists tend to react, panic-stricken and inconsiderately. For example, they often tend to stop in the middle of the road. For the rescue services, the danger of an accident is eight times higher than for any other road user. The end result may be a life-threatening delay. Therefore, it has been stipulated in §38 of the German road traffic act that the ‘normal’ road users have a duty to make room immediately.

But what is the correct behaviour in such a case? First of all: keep your cool and find out where the sound of the siren is coming from. When you are driving on a two-lane road, it’s relatively easy to describe how you should act: move to the right immediately (right hand traffic). Should the motorist be positioned in front of a red traffic light, he may even cross the stop line to make room for the emergency vehicle. Should the traffic light show green, it’s usually better to cross the crossing – but only if this doesn’t hamper the emergency vehicles.

But careful! On the highways, the lane must be opened differently, depending on the number of lanes. Should there be two lanes, the drivers on the left lane should move to the left, those on the right lane to the right. When it comes to three-lane highways, you once again have to follow another regulation. Only those on the left lane should move to the left, the drivers on the other two lanes to the right. And on four-lane highways, the drivers on the two left lanes move to the left, those on the right lanes to the right to open an emergency lane. Incidentally, it’s advisable to not immediately close the lane again after the emergency cars have passed as further emergency vehicles could follow.

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