If you find yourself driving down a motorway in Vienna or similar road, you’ll likely spot signs that mention a “Rettungsgasse”.
- Indicates requirement to form a temporary traffic-free corridor when traffic flow stops
- See also:
The emergency corridor
A Rettungsgasse 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 standstill seems imminent.
Those signs are simply a reminder of this obligation.
So how do you make a Rettungsgasse or emergency corridor? 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 currently 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’re 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, which can reach four figures if the emergency services or other vehicles entitled to use the emergency corridor are obstructed. (Not to mention the human cost of any delays caused by such a failure.)
For more detailed information on how to behave when forming a Rettungsgasse, check the official requirements here and here provided in English by the Austrian government and ASFINAG (the motorways agency).
P.S. The name Rettungsgasse translates to “rescue lane” or “emergency lane”. The word Rettung is also used to refer to the emergency medical services in Austria. Where a Brit might call the ambulance service, an Austrian calls the Rettung.