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The Netherlands has so called rush-hour lanes, which are often emergency lanes that are opened for traffic during rush hours. They are always indicated with green arrows above the highway.

I find these confusing because to enter them you may need to cross an unbroken white line, which in normal condition is indication that you should stay in your lane. At the same time, Dutch road laws require drivers to stay on the right and only use the other lanes (middle, left, etc) to overtake.

So how should these rush-hour lanes be used? Should I only get on them where there is an intermittent dividing line, and stay on the rush-hour lane until there is another intermittent line, or should I ignore the continuous line and just change lanes as if it didn't exist?

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When it's open, you're allowed to cross the line. Source (Dutch).

I had never actually heard that before, so I assume everybody else reasons the same way I did: it's an open lane, you're obviously supposed to use it as a perfectly normal lane, so the fact that it can only be reached by crossing an uncrossable line must be a visual illusion that can be safely ignored :-)

It's a normal lane in every respect, so you have to move there if there is no reason not to, and when in one, you can't overtake cars that drive in lanes further to the left.

An important detail is that you should only look at the digital signs above the lane to decide whether the lane is open (as you mentioned correctly), not at other signage to the side of the road. When the lane is open there is no emergency lane anymore, so when someone has to make an emergency stop, dangerous situations can arise. It will be immediately closed by means of the digital signs above the lane in that case (turn into a red cross), but the signs at the side probably won't change.

  • Typically these are hard shoulders that were upgraded to be able to serve as full lanes, and when they are closed to traffic they serve again as hard shoulders. – Michael Hampton Nov 22 '14 at 1:21
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    Maybe good to now that theoretically you can be fined for not keeping right in such cases. Unfortunately, many Dutch people don't know how to use a rush-hour-lane. – Bernhard Nov 29 '14 at 13:36
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Many countries, and I assume that the Netherlands is among them, has an order of priority for conflicting signs in their traffic laws.

When I learned to drive (not in the Netherlands though), we were tought about three categories, here listed in the order of increasing priority:

  • Road markings and fixed signs
  • Traffic lights and variable signs
  • Orders from police or other officials

Applied to the usage of road shoulders as regular lanes during rush hour, it means that the traffic light inidicating that you can use the lane has a higher relevance than the road markings indicating that you should not use the lane.

Another more common situation is perhaps (at least in many European countries) the combination of yield or stop signs and traffic lights. If the traffic lights are operating, the yield or stop signs have no significance at all. If the traffic lights are out of order or not in service, the traffic must follow the signs to determine right of way or duty to yield.

Above all kinds of markings and other signs are orders from police or other officials.

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    Please refrain from answering if you don't know (as you indicated yourself) the answer. Simply speculating and assuming based on another countries context is not helping. – user141 Nov 23 '14 at 11:15
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    This is internationally regulated by the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, articles 5 and 6, and therefore a general rule in all signatory countries, including the Netherlands. – neo Nov 23 '14 at 13:55
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    @andra: Why should I refrain to answer with relevant background information? Dealing with conflicting information or signage is such a basic problem in traffic, that it would have surprised me a lot if the Netherlands didn't follow the same rules as applied in most other contries. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Nov 23 '14 at 19:03

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