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NSW joins emergency slow-down rule

Cops Police motorcycles witnesses emergency fatal witnesses police pursuit unlicensed 280km

NSW will join Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia with a new road rule requiring all motorists to slow down when passing stationary or slow-moving emergency vehicles.

In NSW, WA and Victoria, motorists have to slow to 40km/h, but they have to slow to 25km/h in SA.

Queensland has rejected Police Union calls for a similar road rule.


While the rule is designed to protect emergency service workers, critics say it can be dangerous.

They say that on highways, traffic dangerously bunches up to slow from 100km/h or even 110km/h to 40km/h (or 25km/h) while they pass emergency vehicles.

The rule can be particularly dangerous for vulnerable motorcyclists who could be rear-ended in the concertina effect.

Riders should be wary of traffic behind them and look for an escape route, possibly between lanes or on the road edge.

It is also confusing for motorists travelling interstate because of the disparities in the rule.

Motorcycle Council of NSW spokesman Steve Pearce acknowledges that emergency workers should be protected.

“However, by suddenly reducing the speed limit on a major carriageway to 40km/h we are swapping the safety of emergency workers for the safety of ordinary motorists,” he says.

“Anyone who has driven on a high-speed road knows the effect of braking suddenly from 110km/h to 40km/h.

“The resulting snaking of traffic can produce a trail of rear end collisions, and more often than not this is what happens.

“Motorcyclists are the most vulnerable of road users. The effect of a rear end collision of a motorcyclist will most likely be a serious injury or fatality. In our view, more consultation, thought and planning needs to be performed before introducing new road rules such as these.”

Emergency rules varyRoad safety crash accident motorcycle scam emergency

Emergency vehicles are defined as police cars, fire engines and ambulances displaying red and blue flashing lights and/or sounding their siren.

In Victoria it includes all “escort vehicles” (check the video below). In SA SES vehicles are included and in WA it extends to all emergency vehicles, including tow trucks, RAC roadside assistance patrol vehicles, and Main Roads Incident Response Vehicles removing road debris and broken-down vehicles.

The rule does not apply if the emergency vehicle is on the other side of the road where there is a median strip.

Fines also vary

In South Australia, you can cop a maximum fine up to $1007 and some motorists have been disqualified for six months.

Victoria’s fine is $272.05, but there is a maximum court penalty of $777.30 if you unsuccessfully challenge the fine. 

In NSW, the fine is $448 and three demerit points while in WA it is $300 and three points.

The new road rule will be trialled in NSW for 12 months from 1 September 2018 before all authorities concerned decide whether to make the law permanent.

  1. I support this change as I’ve seen near misses so many times. Semis with everything locked up trying to avoid the rubber necking Tarago almost stopped in front of him at an accident site. The only safe way this can be done is to have a couple of hundred metres of clear sight warning prior to entering the emergency site. I’ve seen situations where a road has been blocked by an accident, the queue of traffic lined up to almost the top of a hill, and a log truck overtake the whole lot, crashed cars and all, because he was probably going too fast, and there simply wasn’t enough warning of a road blocked. It all comes down to 2 things; Plenty of warning of approach to an accident zone, and common sense.

    In the situation of the road being open, slowing down traffic should also go with well placed warning signs and potentially flashing lights on approach, otherwise, rear-enders will occur as the critics say. Common sense just isn’t that common these days.

  2. I suppose the only other alternative is to force a lane closure on traffic that is likely to delay traffic much more. Drivers should concentrate on driving and not rubbernecking.

  3. I agree with slowing done around accident areas etc but am concerned that ignorant drivers behind wont thus taking me out from behind. Just because you do the right thing doesn’t mean others will…
    Also agree that these areas need to be marked clearly before the area. Especially for those around a blind bend as one example.
    I’ve seen a crash and many near crashes caused by RBT’s being setup in dangerous locations, behind a blind bend, behind a crest etc. It staggers belief that the police do this.
    And for S.A, having to slow down to 25kmh is ridiculous. On a 100kmh highway, I’d be fearfully looking in the rear view mirror expecting to be rear ended…

  4. Most people don’t slow down now for school buses with flashing “wig-wags” and that law has been in effect for many years.

    1. School buses themselves don’t even slow down for each other. Seen it many times.

      I shouldn’t say this too loudly as I wouldn’t want a politician or shiney arse public servant to get the idea, but would the next step be to have speed cameras on every bus and emergency vehicle to book those who don’t slow down? Imagine the revenue they’d generate. I know they couldn’t make it work, but thats the way some of them think.

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