This is a temporary lane or corridor for the emergency services to use. Austrian law requires vehicles on motorways or dual carriageways to create such a corridor when in a traffic jam or a jam seems imminent.
Those signs are simply a reminder of this obligation.
So how do you make a Rettungsgasse? Here’s an overview:
On a dual carriageway, vehicles in the left lane need to drive as far to the left as possible, and the vehicles in the right lane as far to the right as needed to open up an emergency route down the middle of the carriageway.
On a motorway, vehicles in the far left lane keep as far to the left as possible, the other lanes keep to the right to open up an emergency passage between the far left outermost lane and the next lane.
Things to note:
- Again, this Rettungsgasse is required any time a jam forms or traffic is approaching a standstill. So you take action even when an emergency vehicle is not near or not needed.
- Don’t angle your car across the road – straighten up, but keep to the left or right as required.
- In creating this emergency corridor, you are allowed to use the hard shoulder.
Needless to say, the authorities frown on anyone using the Rettungsgasse who shouldn’t do so, and this behaviour incurs a hefty fine.
Failing to create a Rettungsgasse also incurs a fine, not to mention the human cost of obstructing the emergency services or other vehicles entitled to use the emergency corridor.
For more detailed information on how to behave when forming a Rettungagasse, see this video and check the official requirements here and here (both in English) given by the Austrian government and ASFINAG (the motorways agency).