The emergency vehicle legislation is now in full swing.  It took a while to reach the legislation, but it is now embedded in the Road Rules as regulation 78-1.  What does it mean for you though?



People on foot

The first subsection of the new rule is fairly straightforward.  If you are approaching an emergency vehicle with flashing lights you need to give way to anyone on foot in the immediate vicinity of the vehicle.



Slow down to 40 km/h

The more controversial part of this Rule is the proviso that a driver must not drive past, at a speed exceeding 40 kilometres per hour, a stationary emergency response vehicle on a road that is displaying a flashing blue or red light.  That is what the entire Rule says, there is no allowance for the speed you are travelling at the time, or the amount of traffic surrounding you, or the speed the surrounding traffic is travelling at.


It is also unknown how this rule will be enforced, as a speed camera needs to record you for at least 4 seconds before they get an accurate reading it is likely there will be some difficulty with accurately measuring only the point in time where you were physically next to or 'driving past' the emergency vehicle.



After you slow down, don't speed up

After you slow down to pass the vehicle, you then have to be careful about when you speed up.  The Road Rule provides that  a driver who drives past a stationary emergency response vehicle on a road that is displaying a flashing blue or red light must not increase speed until the driver is at a sufficient distance from the vehicle so as to avoid causing a danger to any person in the immediate vicinity of the vehicle.


So what is a sufficient distance from the vehicle?  Once you have slowed down to 40km/h you can't increase your speed again until you are a sufficient distance from the vehicle.  There are additionally issues with measuring increasing speed, a speed camera can measure how fast you are travelling if you are travelling at a consistent distance.  It cannot measure when you increase your speed.



Median Strip

You don't need to worry about this if the emergency vehicle is on the other side of a road which is divided by a median strip.  Median strip means a dividing strip designed or developed to separate vehicles travelling in opposite directions.  This means it doesn't just have to be a concrete barrier, another example is where there is a nature strip in between the two separate roads.

You do need to worry about it if you are driving on a high way or free way that has a median strip, but the emergency vehicle is on the same side of the road as you.



What is an emergency vehicle?

For the purposes of this particular rule, emergency vehicle doesn't just mean police, fire or ambulance.  For the purposes of this rule it means:

(a)  the NSW Police Force,
(b)  the Ambulance Service of NSW,
(c)  Fire and Rescue NSW,
(d)  the NSW Rural Fire Service,
(e)  the NSW State Emergency Service,
(f)  the Authority (that is Roads and Maritime Services),
(g)  the Transport Management Centre, and
(h)  the NSW Volunteer Rescue Association.



Here are some images of the less common vehicles.




So what do I do?

Keep a keen look out for flashing blue and red lights and if you think you see them then slow down.  The vehicle has to be using it lights for this legislation to apply, it isn't enough that it is simply on the side of the road.  If you receive a ticket then come and have a free thirty minute consultation with Bruce Coode to find out if there is anything you can do to challenge it.  Like we said this is an emerging area of law, you should get advice and not try to Google it.

Bruce has been acting for clients for over forty years and he understands that your license is important to you.  He will explain things to you in plain English, and you will understand the process and the costs involved if you decide to challenge your ticket.



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