Forming a so-called “Rettungsgasse” (emergency alley) on German roads is a law in Germany. Failing to do so can be punished with a fine.
Slow moving or even stationary traffic can be frustrating for drivers who are on their way to work or just late for an appointment. However, slow moving traffic can also be a problem for emergency vehicles and could even cost lives. Therefore, the German government has created a new law in 2017, in order to help emergency crews and tow trucks move through heavy traffic quicker.
“During slow moving or stationary traffic, the law requires motorists to create a Rettungsgasse or emergency alley, in order to let emergency vehicles pass through quickly,” said Thomas Becker, Police Chief Inspector with the Wiesbaden Police Directorate.
Drivers should form the Rettungsgasse before there is even an emergency vehicle in sight. “Once traffic moves slower, drivers in the left lane should move as far to the left as possible, while all other drivers in the other lanes should all move as far as possible to the right. Failure to do so, can result in a fine,” Becker said.
Emergency vehicles will normally announce themselves with a siren and blue lights. Tow trucks will have yellow lights and no siren. Fines for not creating the Rettungsgasse and blocking emergency vehicles or tow trucks can range from around €20 to over €300 in certain cases. Using the Rettungsgasse to get to a destination quicker, following an emergency vehicle or making a U-turn is strictly forbidden even for motorcycles.
“Fines can increase to €350 or more and there is a potential that your license gets suspended for at least one month for blocking emergency vehicles or causing an accident,” Becker said.
USAG Wiesbaden Directorate of Emergency Services, Chief of Police, Jason Kesselring explains that a good source of information for U.S. Forces drivers is the Driver and Vehicle Requirements and the Installation Traffic Code for the U.S. Forces in Germany (Army in Europe Regulation 109-1). “Members of the U.S. Forces are subject to all host nation traffic laws and regulations and have to pay German fines and could even lose their license,” said Kesselring.