RETTUNGSGASSE - Forming a Rescue Lane

emergency corridorWhen a crash occurs on multiple laned highways in B.C., drivers tend to stop in the same lane position that they use when driving. This often creates significant difficulties for emergency services, large fire department vehicles in particular, because there is no space for them to drive to the scene. Time lost to making way can come at a significant cost to the victims involved.

Some European countries have made the concept of the Rescue Lane or Emergency Corridor (Rettungsgasse) into law. Whenever traffic is jammed or appears that it might come to a standstill, drivers in the left lane must move to the left and drivers in the right lane(s) must move to the right. This automatically creates an empty emergency corridor that is ready for immediate use.

Drivers who fail to form a rescue lane and obstruct emergency vehicles or drivers who use it when they are not entitled to are subject to significant fines.

This would be an excellent addition to the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act.


Makes sense to me

Actually, I've witnessed this happening on a couple of different occasions on BC Freeways that were backed up from the crash, with Fire Truck drivers deliberately parting the traffic ahead of them in the same manner.

Of course, even if they do change the Motor Vehicle Act, probably most of the public won't be any more aware of it than the 'Slow Down, Move Over' law that was introduced twelve years ago ...

The fact is, ICBC and/or RSBC do an absolutely pathetic job of notifying drivers when significant changes are made to our traffic laws.

Advertising is Not Enough

I still think that when a driver goes to renew their driver's licence they should be pointed to the computer to take the same 50 question test that new drivers do. If you don't get 80% you don't renew.

Since these are practiced drivers who have had time to learn the questions should be more difficult too.

RETTUNGSGASSE - Forming a Rescue Lane

We were heading from the Langley up to the Okanagan one morning and as we were between Abbotsford and Chilliwack toward the Vedder Canal, we could hear sirens but due to very heavy traffic could not see where they were coming from - what direction.

Both left and right lanes were solid with vehicles and I decided moving to the left shoulder was the best option (I was in the left lane as it was.) Both lanes of traffic moved to their respective shoulder and Emergency vehicles just came down the center lane. It could not have been better scripted.

Further east we came across the accident, a roll over in the center median.

BUT, more people need to be made aware of what to do in various situations!

I was told by a friend of mine from BC Ambulance when asked what to do in heavy town traffic and he said "Stop and we will maneuver around" Especially at traffic lights you do not have an opportunity to move to one side or the other.

Thank you for all the information you pass along, even if I do not reply often.

Richard Bennett

Im der Rettugsgasse

I always figured the correct thing to do was to get out of the way. It is surprising this has to be stated and formed into definitive 'act'.

 What we all could use, would be a similar publication such as a pilots NOTAMs(Notice To Airmen), that is continuously being updated, and what might be called NOTDs. The cynic may think that most of the updates would be ignored is probably not far from the truth. But with new cars, and as an Engineer friend once said, "my car has more computing power than the old space shuttle.", one would think relevant updates could be mailed to the new car computer and a notification system would enlighten the operator at each start up.  

 Ja, until then, Ausweichen!

Common misconception

I always figured the correct thing to do was to get out of the way. It is surprising this has to be stated and formed into definitive 'act'.

Something I discovered years ago, is that many drivers think that the correct response to an emergency vehicle with lights and sirens and stuff is to either stop dead or head over to the right hand side of the road, even if it requires a lane change or two.

But actually, if there's any sort of median (jersey barrier, or boulevard, for instance) then evading them - in order to enable them to get where they're going quickest - then simply moving out of the way asap and getting stopped is what's required under law.

Approach of emergency vehicle

177 On the immediate approach of an emergency vehicle giving an audible signal by a bell, siren or exhaust whistle, and showing a visible flashing red light, except when otherwise directed by a peace officer, a driver must yield the right of way, and immediately drive to a position parallel to and as close as possible to the nearest edge or curb of the roadway, clear of an intersection, and stop and remain in that position until the emergency vehicle has passed.

So arguably, Rettugsgasse is already in affect. And it doesn't just apply to freeways!


An aside. Many years ago, I trained to be an ICBC Driver Examiner. And I'll always remember going out with the Applicant for the first test I  conducted, and thinking to myself that it would be a great start if she were to qualify for her license.

So, we've turned right at the first intersection, and traveled less than half a block, and in the mirror I notice an ambulance with red flashing lights proceeding rapidly our way; it's maybe a block behind us, but hasn't yet activated the sirens. So I wait as long as I can, but she doesn't notice it, and so doesn't react to it; at which point, I had to tell her to move to the curb and stop. That may have been the shortest road test ever!

At one time the intentions

At one time the intentions was when renewing ones licence you would be re-examined.

With modern technology there is no reason when the renewal notice is sent out an access code could be provided for one to review changes brought in over the last 5 years and to do an online test. When you showed up to get your new licence if you hadn't taken the test and passed no renewal.

Only problem I see is no one is interested in highway safety, only the revenue that can be brought in from the usual tickets.

Rettugsgasse is an excellent idea even though as pointed out by Competientdrivingbc it is already in place. It also works in avoiding head on collisions. Not many highways you can't get 3 vehicles wide on. Often thought especially on long straight sections that people would rather be dead right than to give a mm.

I have two incidences with ambulances one just last week. First case I had past an elderly couple when shortly after I saw an ambulance behind so waited till it was fairly close pulled to the right and stopped. The vehicle I had just past not paying any attention to what was going on behind then proceeded to pass me, forcing the ambulance onto the gravel of the far shoulder. Have used this as an example of peoples attitudes. I can just imagine them complaining about speeders well driving down the road without a clue what was going on behind them. See it in numerous posts here about speeders of how instantly they are on their back bumper tailgating them. Fact is they have probably been there for several klicks just never checked the mirrors.

Next was a truck with a oversize load and pilot car. Ambulance caught up to them with lights and siren, Myself and two other vehicles were approaching pulled over and stopped. The pilot car and oversized vehicle past a pull out which they could easily have pulled into but didn't. I can see the truck driver having difficulty seeing what was behind due to the width of load, but I'm sure he should have heard the siren and one of them should have thought something was wrong when approaching traffic was pulling past the fog line and stopping.

Which brings a question do pilot cars and trucks use one of the LADD channels or do they have an assigned frequency? Do emergency vehicles have access to this frequency?

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