Rettungsgasse: Rescue Alley

In Germany, when highway traffic slows to a walking speed or stops completely, all vehicles are obliged to move to the side to create an open lane in the middle. This free lane, or Rettungsgasse, is for emergency vehicles only, and must be wide enough for a firetruck or snowplow. While regular traffic may be partially off the shoulder, they aren't moving anyway. Meanwhile, ambulances and wreckers can speed along on the pavement. An English translation of German Wikipedia explains how Rettungsgasse works, as well as traffic jam rules for other countries.  -via TYWKIWDBI

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What a great idea! In the US, we waste a lot of money by paving shoulders, which sit unused most of the time. But the Germans have eliminated the need for a shoulder by having each lane donate half of its space in the middle. Simple and effective.
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Though the image isn't clear, the "rescue lane" is most often between the left and center lanes when there are three lanes in the same direction. This makes sense because most accidents are in the left lane. If first responders have to use the shoulder, then they cannot reach the scene as easily.
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