The Austrian Emergency Corridor – Life Saver or Traffic Hazard?

The Austrian Emergency Corridor – Life Saver or Traffic Hazard?


Elmar W.M. Fürst, WU Vienna - Institute for Transport and Logistics Management, Christian Vogelauer, WU Vienna - Institute for Transport and Logistics Management


Access for emergency vehicles to crash sites is a constant problem. In Austria, thus the emergency corridor was introduced. Many contradictory opinions have been voiced. We investigate the perception of stakeholders and provide policy implications.


Since the beginning of the year 2012, Austrian road users are obliged to form an emergency corridor on the motorway in case of jams or slow moving traffic. To establish this, road-users on the left-hand lane must keep as far to the left as possible while all other drivers are required to drive as far right as possible, even if this means driving on the emergency lane or the hard shoulder. The idea behind this corridor is the ensured availability of an open lane for emergency vehicles in which they can by-pass the congestion, be it to reach an accident location, transport injured without delay or are not blocked in their general task fulfillment by the everyday traffic.
However since the introduction of the emergency corridor there are ongoing debates on the necessity and its effective operation. Here the arguments range from highly in favor of the solution to strictly against any continuation of the current regulation. The positive side that is seen is the reduced time that emergency vehicles require to reach an accident and the ensured free lane, where other (broken-down) vehicles were often blocking the emergency lane as far as one was available. On the other hand, it is criticized that the conditions under which the emergency corridor is required to be formed are not clear enough (slow moving traffic), that slip roads are more often blocked and that foreign drivers are unaware of the correct way in which to form the emergency corridor.
The proposed paper is tackling these questions with a qualitative approach among the intended users and relevant stakeholders of the emergency corridor. In a first part, the underlying principles of the emergency corridor and the criticism that is voiced are presented. The second part will focus on the qualitative interviews concerning the experience of effective users and their viewpoint on the published criticism. Eventually the effectiveness of the emergency corridor will be evaluated and recommendations will be derived either on how to improve current shortcomings or whether to discontinue the corridor as a whole.


Association for European Transport