Call for 40km/h past emergency vehicles

Police lights emergency vehicles

Emergency services workers are pushing for national approval of the new Victorian rule that vehicles must slow to 40km/h when passing parked or slow-moving emergency vehicles.

This is despite the fact that one day after Victoria introduce the new rule a truck slammed into the rear of a small sedan that had slowed to 40km/h on the Western Highway. 

However, the NSW Rural Fire Service wants the rule extended to all of Australia for all emergency services vehicles.

The Victorian rule, introduced from July 1, 2017, requires motorists to slow to 40km/h when passing stationary or slow-moving emergency vehicles displaying lights or sirens, or risk a $277 fine.

Criticism of the new rule

Critics of the rule say it is difficult to police and can cause crashes as motorists try to slow from highway speeds to 40km/h, especially if the emergency vehicles is parked around a bend or over a crest with little warning.

Luckily the sedan driver suffered only minor injuries in the Western Highway incident, but a crash at those speeds could be fatal for a rider.

Motorcyclists are also potentially in greater danger with this new rule as one of the biggest causes of motorcycle crashes with other vehicles is being rear-ended.

Vicpol police motorcycle cops (Photo courtesy of BMW MCC Victoria member, Chris Renwick) emergency services
Photo courtesy of BMW MCC Victoria member, Chris Renwick

The RACV has raised concerns about the practicality of the rule, especially on country roads and freeways with 110km/h speeds.

“In some situations, for example high-speed country roads that have got hills, they’re undulating roads and sharp bends,” he told radio station 3AW.

“It may be very difficult for someone to see the flashing emergency vehicles’ lights far enough in advance so they can slow down to 40 in time. And if they do manage to slam on the anchors … will any vehicle behind them be able to do it?”

9 Comments

  1. So instead of
    driving carefully past the ambulance, watching it & road to ensure we don’t endanger ambos, casualties, etc
    we’ll now
    drive carefully past the ambulance, watching watching our speedo to ensure we don’t endanger our licence.

    Who’s the Rocket Scientist who came up with this idiot idea?

  2. As a motorcyclist, I shall be VERY cautious about complying with this law.
    Of course, this is victoria where any method of fund raising is smiled upon.

    At least I shall be alive to pay the fine ,,,

  3. As an emergency service worker for nearly 22 years and 10 years spent looking after other road users, I am not convinced that this law is needed. Everyone slowed to have a look, much to the frustration of everyone working on the site. We were trained how to use vehicles for protection and you learned to have eyes in the back of your head.

  4. South Australia had this in years ago. Used to be 40kms but have recently changed to 25kms.
    Not good when on freeway doing 110kms an hour then suddenly have too slow down to 25kms. Looking in mirror waiting to be rear ended by someone who doesn’t slow down.

  5. If I didn’t read this here I wouldn’t know other wise and potentially copped a fine while on holiday coming in August

  6. Well you should slow down when you spot flashing lights because you don’t know what the actual hazard is going to be, but putting a speed limit on it says every situation is the same and that just isn’t so.

  7. I am guessing that this idiotic rule is more to do with potential revenue raising than the supposed safety of emergency workers. I can just imagine it an unmarked car will be pulled over being pretend booked for something whilst cops further up will have the speed cameras out.
    Blind Freddy could see that this is a really stupid idea that will get people and probably police killed. If they really want a new rule they could have failure to give space and use caution when passing an emergency vehicle they have rules like that in the USA and they seem to work for the most part as there will always be morons who don’t pay attention the same kind of idiots who will kill someone complying with this moronic law.

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