Being prepared for a standstill: what you shouldn’t do in case of a traffic jam.

Traffic jams on German streets happen very regularly, but especially at the end of the holiday season. Please be cautious: certain rules also apply for stationary traffic.

Leaving your car is forbidden during traffic jams – however you are asked to form an emergency lane. Photo: Matthias Rathmann

In case of a traffic jam on the motorway, passengers are not allowed to leave the car. They only may leave the car to cordon off an accident site. There are no exceptions for hanging nappies or going to the toilet. If you get caught breaking these regulations, you get penalized with a fee of 10 euros.

If your car breaks down and you have to stop at the emergency lane, all passengers should wear reflective vests and wait behind the crash barrier. When you set up the warning triangle, please pay attention to the high speed on the motorway. For this reason, the triangle should be placed at a distance of at least 200 m from the car.

It is not allowed to stop for a break on the emergency lane or on the highway. Its only purpose is for broken vehicles. If you stop on the emergency lane without permission, you risk to be fined with 30 euros, in case you park on the lane, the fine rises to 70 euros. If you use the emergency lane to drive to the next highway exit or to get to the next service area, a fine of 75 euros as well as one point in Flensburg might be imposed.

Talking on the phone during a traffic jam is only allowed when the motor is switched off. Otherwise you risk paying a penalty of 60 Euros and one point in Flensburg. Overtaking on the right side is only allowed when the traffic on the left line stands still or is slower than 60 km/h.

In case of traffic congestions, remember to form an emergency corridor. “This isn’t just an act of courtesy. It’s rather an obligation in case of stop-and-go traffic on motorways or two- or multilane highways,” says Jens Koenig, head of accident research at DEKRA.

But where exactly has the emergency lane to be formed? In case of a two-lane street, it has to be in the middle, on multilane streets, it should be between the lane on the left and the lane right next to it. If the cars stand bumper to bumper, it’s often too late to build the emergency corridor, as there is not enough space left for any manoeuvres.

Read more: Seven false beliefs about using your smartphone behind the wheel

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