If there is a risk of a traffic jam, all drivers, whether in a car or a truck, must form a rescue corridor. Every road user should be aware of this, but there are always delays in the deployment of rescue services because some drivers do not adhere to this. Accordingly, in 2017 the fine for not forming the corridor was increased significantly. Read here how to form the rescue corridor correctly and how to act appropriately in other dangerous situations.
Refresh: How to form the rescue corridor on the motorway
As soon as the cars in front of you slow down, you significantly reduce the speed and steer the truck to the edge of your lane. Normally this should be the right lane; here you move over to the right, but without blocking the hard shoulder. On a three-lane motorway you might have just wanted to overtake – if you are in the middle lane when the traffic slows down, also keep to the right as far as possible. Only the drivers in the left lane drive as far to the left as possible. The rescue corridor is generally located between the left lane and the lane directly next to it, regardless of the number of lanes.
It is important that you steer the vehicle to the side as soon as the traffic starts to slow down. This is the only way you can be sure that your truck is parallel to the lanes when the traffic comes to a complete standstill. If the trailer is still halfway across the lane, that won’t help anyone. That means you haven’t formed the corridor, and that can be expensive: You pay a 200 euro fine and receive two points on your licence. The points are added in any case, but depending on the situation, other penalties may apply. If the failure to form the corridor is accompanied by the obstruction of the rescue services, the police or the fire brigade, the fine is 240 euros and you will be banned from driving for one month. The ban is also imposed if the corridor is unsafe or if there is damage to property, except that the fines are 280 and 320 euros respectively.
Some drivers find fines, points and driving bans disproportionate, but when you consider that human lives are at stake, harsh punishments are a good way of enforcing the often neglected rule for forming the rescue corridor. Other countries take an even more rigorous approach: In Austria, the fine for failure to form a rescue corridor is 2000 euros.
In narrow roadworks you can sometimes not form a real rescue corridor. Here it is all the more important that you drive with caution. Leave plenty of distance between you and the person in front and steer (if possible) staggered to the drivers in the other lane. An ambulance may be able to slalom between the vehicles.
Hazardous situations in winter
Basically, you have to expect ice in winter at minus temperatures. Be prepared, however, that in situations with temperatures just above zero, where large parts of the route are ice-free, ice can still form in some places. This is particularly the case under trees, from which melting snow, rain or dew drips down, but also on bridges or in higher places as well as in hollows. It is particularly important that you drive slowly and with caution in these areas. If you encounter black ice, stop if possible and wait for a gritting vehicle. Otherwise you should only continue your journey at walking speed. Never overtake gritters and when driving behind them keep sufficient distance. The mixture of grit and salt that they spread is quite aggressive and splashes far back from the road. Find out more tips here on how to get through the winter safely with your truck.
The correct way to drive in fog
If you run into fog while you are driving, you should reduce your speed – but not by braking hard, because other drivers may be behind you. So slow down gently to maintain a sufficient distance from the vehicle in front. Use your fog lights, but don’t turn on the rear fog light at the slightest hint of fog; it can be more irritating to other drivers than helpful. Use them only when there is really thick fog and turn them off as soon as visibility improves. In fog it is important that you drive with caution and are always ready to brake. Just because you drive carefully does not mean that all other road users do the same. So, make sure yourself that you have enough time and distance to brake if the vehicle in front brakes hard.
Beware of wild animals crossing
On roads where signs warn against wild animals crossing, you should drive very carefully particularly in the evenings and early morning. Keep an eye on the right side of the road and reduce your speed. Wild animals usually move in packs – where there is one, there are usually several. Keep that in mind when you spot a movement along the route. If nobody but you is on the road when a deer steps out of the forest, for example, you should brake and sound the horn. At the same time you should also dip your headlights, as the bright spotlight disorientates the animals and deprives them of the chance to react. You should only take minimal evasive action – on the one hand by swerving sharply you may end up in the ditch or in front of a tree, and on the other hand you do not know in which direction the animal will run away. It is also possible that you may still hit it precisely because of the evasive manoeuvre.
If you are not alone on the road, swerving and braking hard are not an option. Swerving can cause you to run into the oncoming traffic and an emergency stop can cause a rear-end collision. Here it is important that you continue to drive straight ahead, even if your instincts tell you otherwise. It is therefore best to drive slowly and carefully from the very beginning on routes with signs warning you of wild animals crossing. This way the drivers behind you are not caught off guard by your sudden braking.
Summary: Driving cautiously helps in all hazardous situations
Whether you have to form a rescue corridor on the motorway, whether ice or fog make your journey more difficult or wild animals run across the road, in all situations, you are required to reduce your speed and take appropriate measures at an early stage. This also means that you are prepared for everything at the wheel of your truck and are always thinking one or two steps ahead. You can cope with most hazardous situations by driving with caution – and in the case of having to form a rescue corridor you can avoid a heavy fine by acting correctly. A driver safety training course for truck drivers can help you to instil the correct course of action – after all, in some cases you have to act against your instinct.