German Drivers May Face Higher Fines for Rubbernecking Because It's 'Putting Lives at Risk'

A highway in Germany
Photo: Volker Hartmann (Getty)

German lawmakers might raise fines to almost 2,000 euros (about $2,281) for drivers who fail to get the hell out of the way for emergency vehicles, reports The Guardian. The reason? A new study that found ambulances keep getting held up for an average of five minutes because inattentive drivers can’t stop themselves from filming crashes on their phone.


The study, according to the Guardian, specifically found that four out of every five ambulance deployments were delayed by an average of five minutes when trying to make their way through a traffic jam.

There’s one issue in particular, reports The Guardian (emphasis mine):

Drivers’ failure to move aside to form a “rettungsgasse” or rescue lane in the middle of the road – a key rule to German motorway driving which motorists are taught when learning to drive – has been blamed on drivers looking at the incidents and filming them on their mobile phones.

The study, produced by Germany’s Red Cross, surveyed 96 emergency response teams from across the country, The Guardian reports, before including this very apt quote from the president of the group.

“These figures are horrendous,” Gerda Hasselfeldt, the German Red Cross president, told the news outlet. “In particular when we’re talking about human life, in which every second counts.” The Guardian sums it up in its headline that it’s “putting lives at risk”


Increasing the fine to €2,000 would be a substantial jump above the current fine of €320. German lawmakers had already increase it to that amount, from €20, after a nationwide debate on the increase in German motorway deaths was “was attributed to the growth in rubbernecking and the failure to form the rescue lanes,” The Guardian says.

We’ve said it before, and it’s worth repeating here: please, don’t rubberneck. It’s dangerous and pointless, and just don’t do it.

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Ryan Felton

Senior Reporter, Jalopnik/Special Projects Desk

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