From 26 September 2019 the controversial new “emergency vehicle slow down” laws will be changed. The laws required all motorists in NSW to slow down to 40km/h when passing a stationary emergency vehicle with their lights flashing. The NSW Centre for Road Safety states that this rule is “being changed to improve the safety of emergency services personnel, tow truck operators and breakdown assistance providers working on the road”.
What are the new changes?
On roads with a posted speed limit of 90km/h or more, motorists will need to slow down to a speed that is “reasonable for the circumstances”. Motorists will also need to “provide sufficient space” including a requirement to change lanes on a multi-lane road when passing the emergency vehicle if safe to do so.
On roads with a posted speed limit of 80km/h or less, motorists still need to slow to 40km/h when passing an emergency vehicle.
What emergency vehicles do I have to slow down for?
The law covers all stationary emergency vehicles with blue and red lights such as police, fire and ambulance. The law has also been expanded to include stationary tow trucks and breakdown assistance vehicles with their orange lights flashing.
Why are these laws being put into place?
In 2012 a 23 year-old student named Sarah Fazer was hit by a car and killed on the side of the road on the Hume Highway near Mittagong, NSW whilst she was being assisted by NRMA Roadside Assistance. Since her death, her father has been campaigning to have laws introduced to ensure this does not happen to emergency workers, assistance workers and motorists in the future. SARAH also refers to the acronym: Safer Australian Roads and Highways.
You must stay at a lowered speed until you are a sufficient distance past all vehicles and people involved in whatever the incident is. If there are emergency workers, pedestrians or other people involved in that incident further down the road you must ensure that you continue past them as the lower speed.
If the incident is on the other side of the road, you must also slow down unless the road is divided by a median strip. The RMS states that a median strip is “an area or structure that separates vehicles travelling in opposite directions. A median strip can be covered in grass, it can include or be a wire rope or concrete barrier or be a continuous painted island filled with diagonal bars.”
What is the penalty for breaking this rule?
A fine of $457.00 and 3 demerit points applies. If the matter is decided by a court, there is a maximum penalty of $2,200.00. The particulars of the penalties can be viewed here.
If you’ve been charged with a speeding offence and you’re facing loss of your licence and want to appeal an RMS decision call our office on 1300 818 626 and speak with our experienced traffic lawyers for a free initial consultation.