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An emergency corridor

Source: Adobe Stock / Matthias Buehner

If help is delayed because emergency services cannot reach the scene of an accident on time, accident victims may die or suffer lifelong health impacts or disabilities. It is the State’s duty to do everything possible to prevent rescue measures being made more difficult or even impossible.

For decades now, creating an emergency corridor has been mandatory in Germany. In practice, however, problems in doing so have been known to occur time and again. With the 2016 recast of the German Road Traffic Regulations (StVO), the rules on how to create an emergency corridor were simplified and thus made easier to remember. As soon as vehicles on motorways and roads outside a built-up area with at least two lanes for one direction start to move at walking pace or come to a standstill, these vehicles must, in accordance with Section 11(2) of the German Road Traffic Regulations, leave a gap for one direction between the lane on the far left and the lane immediately adjacent to it on the right to allow police and emergency vehicles to pass (emergency corridor).

To the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, the rescue of life and limb is the first and foremost priority in the case of an accident. Against this background, information on the topic and on the correct behaviour when creating an emergency corridor is disseminated by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure and the media channels of the German Road Safety Council (DVR) and the German Accident Prevention Organization (DVW) in a key supporting campaign entitled “Runter vom Gas!” (Kill your speed). Another measure available to the responsible federal state authorities are banners beating the word "Rettungsgasse" (emergency corridor) which have been developed by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, in cooperation with the German Road Safety Council, to be installed on motorway bridges, for example. If quick aid is needed, the road users are asked in the traffic news on the radio to create an emergency corridor in the specific case. This is to ensure that emergency services have unobstructed and thus quicker access to the scene of the accident.