Who would have thought? Not every car is narrow enough to meander through the construction site in the left lane. And not even every compact car is allowed to use this lane. Why this is so, explains AUTOFAHRERSEITE.EU.
Lane too narrow or cars too wide?
Everyone knows the situation: traffic on the highway slows down, a construction site follows. And with it, time and again, vans and extra-wide vehicles in the left lane that, because of their dimensions, cannot get past the next truck driving in the right lane, thus causing a traffic jam in the highway construction zone. Not to mention the danger that arises from the emerging uncertainty of other road users in such situations. The maximum width was already indicated on the traffic sign 264 at the entrance to the construction site. The vehicle is allowed to have a width of two meters on the left lane, which is currently still common practice in many construction sites and is indicated by the round traffic sign with a red border and width information.
What width counts?
If there is a traffic sign 264 at the beginning of the site, indicating the restriction of vehicle width (i.D.R 2.00 m) in the left lane, many drivers are initially irritated and do not have the dimensions of their vehicle at hand. In addition, the question arises as to which dimensions are decisive. The dimensions given in the registration certificate or the actual width including the folded out mirrors? Until a few years ago, the information in the registration certificate was still authoritative. This was also a logical reference, as the maximum vehicle width including load allowed on freeways is listed in § 18 paragraph 1 of the German Road Traffic Regulations (StVO): 2.55 m maximum width, up to 2.6 m for refrigerated vehicles. However, the current data of the vehicle documents reflect only the width excluding the exterior mirrors, while the Highway Code assumes the actual overall width of a car, including the mirrors. According to dpa, Jens König, head of Dekra accident research, said: "The rule is mirror outer edge to mirror outer edge". Dekra therefore recommends that you measure your own car before starting your vacation trip. If you are already in front of a construction site and you do not know the dimensions of your car, you should drive directly on the right lane to be on the safe side.
Even compact cars are sometimes too wide
A survey by the car data expert Schwacke came to the conclusion that many of the current vehicles may not use the lanes permitted with 2 m maximum width. Even apparently narrow vehicles such as the Ford Focus, Hyundai i30, VW Golf and Opel Astra must drive on the right in road works marked in this way. According to the vehicle registration document, the Golf is 1.80 meters wide, which is 2.03 meters including the exterior mirrors. Audi A4, Q3, BMW 3-series, X1, Mercedes Viano and Volkswagen T5 are also too wide. In the case of the Volkswagen T5, the width is as much as 2.28 meters.
Suvs do not belong in the left lane of a construction site!
Naturally, candidates such as the Porsche Cayenne, Mercedes M-Class, BMW X5/X6, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Qashqai, the Skoda Octavia and Volvo V70 station wagons and even the Ford B-Max van fall through the cracks due to their design and are not allowed to drive in the lanes limited to a vehicle width of 2 meters. So it's not just wide SUVs that are not allowed in the left lane due to their dimensions.
Fines are imposed for excess width
Driving in the left lane of the road works with excess width costs a 20 euro fine. If a vehicle that is too wide is involved in an accident, it may not only be subject to a fine. Possibly even the Kasko protection is then limited. Due to a possible contributory negligence it can even come to reductions in the benefits of the comprehensive insurance as well as the liability insurance.
Cars with excess width
Width without exterior mirrors
Bride with exterior mirrors
What is valid in Switzerland?
In Switzerland, too, some lanes may only be used up to a certain vehicle width, for example at construction sites. However, the vehicle width in Switzerland (unlike in Germany) is measured without the exterior mirrors. This is stipulated in Article 38 of the Regulation for the Technical Requirements for Road Vehicles: "The width of the vehicle shall be measured over the outermost parts firmly attached to the vehicle, but excluding: […] mirrors and other systems for indirect vision as well as their mounts, vision aids, profile indicators."
If a signal restricting the maximum width is disregarded, the driver is liable to prosecution according to Art. 21 Signalization ordinance as well as by type. 27 Abs. 1 Road traffic law punishable. The consequence is a proper criminal procedure, which can lead to a fine and – depending on the exact circumstances – to a driver's license suspension of at least three months.
This is new to many drivers. It is not the information in the vehicle registration document that counts, but the actual dimensions. And under certain circumstances these can deviate enormously from the registered data. And although in many construction sites the maximum width has been raised to 2.10 m, many models also exceed this dimension. So measure your car, the next construction site is coming for sure!
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