20

Here in Germany where I live, in lieu of stop signs, a lot of intersections have things that look somewhat like this:

intersection with white blocks instead of stop signs

It's a set of four or five white blocks. It's similar to the solid line you'd see accompanying a stop sign, but these are separate blocks, and there's no stop sign.

I've made assumptions about what these are based on observation, and I've also searched fruitlessly for information about them.

What exactly do these mean for traffic? And is there an authoritative source where I can read about them?

19

If you see those lines without any sign at the road, it's usually there to remind people to respect the "right before left" rule. In the picture, you can see a white car that seems to approach the crossing from "bottom left". If there was another car coming in from "bottom right", the white car would have to stop. If there was a car coming in from "upper left", the white car would go before that one.

A question always asked in driving school: who gets to drive first if there are cars coming in along all streets at the same time? in theory, drivers should communicate using gestures, in practice, some guy in an SUV will go first :)

In contrast to the stop sign, the broken lines are an indication that you don't have to stop if you can see that there is no car coming from the right before you reach the line - as Eike already mentioned, you have to stop at a stop sign no matter what, even if it's 3am and you are the only person out in the street.

  • 2
    I think I see where I was having difficulty with these intersections. It sounds like it works this way: If I'm approaching the intersection, and another car is as well, it does not matter who reaches or crosses the broken white line first. All that matters is who is on the right. If I'm on the right, I have the right of way. If the other car is, I need to stop at the broken white line, regardless of whether I reach it before or after the other car. Is that correct? – Kyralessa Oct 14 '17 at 20:40
  • 7
    You could, instead of stopping, reduce your speed enough to let the other car pass safely (and to not make the driver suspect you are not going to let him pass). You don't have to stop, just give way. Unlike a stop sign, where you have to stop (all wheels at rest), no matter what. If you stop, stop at the interrupted line. – gnasher729 Oct 14 '17 at 21:18
  • 3
    @Kyralessa Yes, that's essentially it. One more thing: If you want to turn left, you also have to let vehicles from the opposite direction pass before you make your turn. And remember that bicycles also count as vehicles so if there is a bike coming from your right or coming from ahead when you want to turn left, the bicycle had the right of way. – Sumyrda Oct 14 '17 at 22:18
  • 1
    And if there is no SUV, people will often still do the wrong thing: The correct resolution of the situation is that one of the drivers waives their right to the driver on their left, but many are so fixated to the one coming from their right that they wrongly (and dangerously) direct their kind "you go first" gesture there – Hagen von Eitzen Oct 15 '17 at 12:05
  • 1
    @MikeScott, if they're all self-driving cars, they just form an impromptu traffic circle and all go at the same time. – Kyralessa Oct 15 '17 at 17:21
29

This is a "unterbrochene Haltelinie" (broken wait line).

You are supposed to stop here to let pass cars that have right of way. However this is just a suggestion and serves as an indicator where it is safe to stop; stopping is not mandatory (so it is not actually in lieu of stop signs, because you'd have to stop at a stop sign even if you were the only car in town).

The ADAC (German auto club) has a complete (English) list of the names of German traffic signs. The wait linie is sign 341. There is also an (unbroken) stop line which usually accompanies the stop sign and indicates where exactly you have to stop.

The relevant law for all things related to street traffic is the Strassenverkehrsordnung.

  • 1
    So this is a sort of four-way yield? Who yields to whom? – Kyralessa Oct 14 '17 at 18:34
  • 13
    This is not a yield; the ground rule in absence of further signs is that the car coming from your right has right of way. The wait line merely says that if you stop you better stop here, else you will be standing in the middle of the crossing and be responsible if somebody crashes into you. It is a security feature of sorts, but unlike stop signs etc. does not change the basic rules. – Eike Pierstorff Oct 14 '17 at 18:39
  • 7
    "Rechts vor links" ("right before left") is probably the single most important difference between German and (e.g.) US road rules. In Germany, unless there is an explicit Stop or Yield sign or their right-of-way counterparts or you are in a roundabout, the car coming from the right always has the right of way. (Conversely, the US four-way "yield to who arrived first" tends to trip up Germans) – Stephan Kolassa Oct 14 '17 at 21:38
  • 7
    Most European countries use "right before left". – gerrit Oct 14 '17 at 22:11
  • 2
    @stephan Just to add to your confusion, if to people arrive at the same time in the US, then right before left still applies. – Sidney Oct 15 '17 at 0:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.