In four special situations, motorists may legally drive through a red traffic light. Not being able to read the traffic light isn't one of them, though. We explain what's behind it.
Exception 1: give way to ambulances and police vehicles
If ambulances or police vehicles with flashing lights and a siren are behind you, you as a road user are obliged to give them space immediately and let them pass. If you are standing at a red traffic light and cannot avoid it in any other way, you may then carefully cross the stop line to make room for the emergency vehicle. When the vehicles have passed you, you should either wait past the stop line until the light turns green or drive back past the stop line if possible.
If you see a metal sign with a green arrow next to a traffic light, you can turn off despite the red traffic light.
Exception 2: Green arrow next to the red traffic light
Next to some traffic lights there is a sign with a green arrow pointing to the right. If you see a sign like this at a red traffic light, you can still turn right. To do this, however, you must first stop at the stop line and make sure that you do not endanger other road users such as pedestrians or cyclists when turning. If you don't stop at the stop line, you risk a fine of 70 euros and a point in Flensburg.
Exception 3: Defective traffic light does not jump back to yellow
If the red traffic light does not turn yellow again after a long time, you can count on the traffic light being broken. In this case, you may drive carefully into the intersection. The important thing is that you have waited long enough. It is not specified exactly how long you have to wait. According to previous court rulings, you are legally crossing a broken red light if you have waited between three and five minutes.
If you are part of a convoy, such as Federal President Steinmeier during his visit to Sweden in 2021, you are allowed to drive through a red traffic light.
Exception 4: As part of a closed association
A closed convoy refers to several vehicles moving in a convoy. If you cross a traffic light as part of a closed convoy, you may also drive through it at red light, provided that it was still green for the first vehicle in the column. However, use extreme caution when crossing red lights. Because even if other road users have to give priority, there is an increased risk of accidents.
Driving in a convoy: you have to pay attention to this
If you approach a red traffic light and none of these situations exist, you must not drive over them under any circumstances. Otherwise you face consequences.
Driving through a red traffic light: What consequences should I expect?
In the case of a simple red light violation, i.e. if the traffic light was red for less than a second when you drove over it, you face a fine of 90 euros and a point in Flensburg. If you also endanger other road users or damage other cars, the fine increases to 200 euros and you receive two points in Flensburg and a one-month driving ban.
If you drive through a traffic light that has been red for more than one second, you commit a qualified red light offence. You have to reckon with a fine of 200 euros, two points in Flensburg and a one-month driving ban. If there is a hazard or damage to a qualified red light violation, the fine increases to 320 euros.
What if I don't see what the traffic light is showing?
If the sun is low in the sky, you may not be able to see the traffic light phase correctly because of the light conditions. If you are then unsure, you should not be disturbed – not even by other drivers who honk their horns. You should take your time and calmness to recognize whether you are allowed to run the traffic light.
If the traffic light was red and you drove anyway because you did not recognize the traffic light phase correctly, it is a red light offence. However, driving bans are rarely imposed in this case. It is important that you write down or remember the day and time when you ran the red traffic light. This is the only way to understand whether your information about the illegibility of the traffic light is correct.
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This article was first published by the colleagues at EFAHRER.com.