Cop injured under emergency speed rule

Cop injured under new speed rule crash police emergency 40km/h

A recent crash that injured a NSW police motorcyclist happened despite a new rule requiring motorists to slow to 40km/h when passing stationary or slow-moving emergency vehicles.

The incident occurred at Warrell Creek near Nambucca Heads, NSW, last Sunday when the officer pulled over a car and was hit by another car.Cop injured under new speed rule crash police emergency 40km/h

Motorcycle Council of NSW Chairman Steve Pearce says it’s “just a matter of time until a serious incident occurs as a result of this rule”.

“The fact is our motorways were never constructed with emergency management considered adequately,” he says.

“Asking drivers to reduce speed from 110km/h to 40km/h without adequate warning is just a recipe for a disaster.

“In my view, the NSW Government have opened themselves to a possible damages action. A driver/rider should expect to be given adequate warning to reduce speed from 110km to 40km. The legislation as it stands does not allow for any adequate or reasonable warning structure whatsoever.”

Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey says the new rule which matches rules in Victoria and Western Australia is under a 12-month review and she is awaiting a police report on the incident. South Australia has a similar rule but a 25km/h speed.

The RACV says it could be difficult for motorists to see flashing emergency vehicles’ lights over a hill and have enough time to slow down to 40km/h.

The Queensland Government has rejected Police Union calls for a similar road rule.Cop injured under new speed rule crash police emergency 40km/h

The  major concern is that vulnerable motorcyclists, such as the NSW police officer, are at risk.

In fact, the person the rule was meant to protect appears to be a victim in this incident.

NSW Police say the 48-year-old officer has undergone surgery for fractures to his right leg.

A 70-year-old woman from Queensland, the driver of the Mazda2, has been interviewed by police and released pending further investigation, spokesperson says.

The matter is currently being investigated by the Crash Investigation Unit and it is too early to speculate on the associated factors,” she says.

Tips on emergency ruleRoad safety crash accident motorcycle scam emergency reduce injured

If riders see the flashing lights of an emergency vehicle, there are several things they can do to avoid a rear-ender.

  • Look at traffic behind you to assess the danger;
  • Indicate and change lanes away from the emergency vehicle, if there is a vacant lane to move into;
  • If not, switch on the hazard lights;
  • Brake as smoothly as possible, perhaps activating the brake light on and off to attract the attention of following traffic; and
  • Search for an escape route, possibly between lanes or on the road edge.

Confusing rule

The rule is confusing for motorists travelling interstate during holidays because of the disparities in the rule and the fact that some states do not have the rule at all.

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”. 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 until August 31, 2019, before all authorities concerned decide whether to make the law permanent.

33 Comments

  1. Just back from the USA, slow down move over is there way of dealing with emergency vehicles and people. They have signs everywhere stating “slow down move over” and it works sort of. The American drivers move over but rarely slow down.
    Just another thought, how are those autonomous cars going to react? Probably not at all, and therefore putting everyone at risk.

    1. “it works sort of” – yeah they still have a road toll twice as bad as ours and how many of those dash cam videos have you seen with cops getting hit roadside, stacks and stacks.

      Autonomous cars have software which enables them to “see” the flashing lights, if they can’t see them because of traffic they’ll see the cars in front slowing anyway. The software can differentiate what is a cat, dog, bicycle rider, person, truck driver getting out of his truck (car will give him room if possible), Police roadside (as above), motorbikes, etc, etc, I could go on but I think you’ll see my point.

  2. Recently riding my bike North on the Hume I had just overtaken a Semi going up a hill. Once past I pulled back into the left hand lane just as I crested the hill I see plod on the side of the highway lights flashing. I braked and imeadiatly checked my mirrors to see the Semi crest the hill with little chance of slowing as quickly as I could. I imeadiatly pulled back into the right hand lane allowing the Semi to steam through. If I had had blindly complied to the new rule I have no doubt that I would be dead. The new law has been braught in for the right reasons but as is the case with any one size fits all rule or law it is ill conceived and very dangerous. It is so obviously dangerous in open road conditions I am aghast that it has been sanctioned. Then again it comes from the same group that see reduction of speed in all and any situation as a panacea for all traffic issues.

  3. NSW has already experienced a bad accident as a result of this new law and as a result it is now under review however the other states believe that it wont happen to them and therefore are not reviewing it are they going to wait until it happens on their roads this to me is stupidity at the highest level. That is the same as putting a sign up to say dont walk on the grass and believing that has solved the problem , all it has done is given the blame to a third party .

  4. Another rule that puts the onus on drivers for obnoxious police behaviour,having flashing lights and sirens does not give you an excuse to park like a fool,nor does it cheat the laws of physics in relation to solid objects,it looks like the police were parked in a lane and not in the(what appears to be rather roomy) breakdown lane.does anyone else want to see a cop do an emergency stop from 110 km/h and see how long it takes them to stop-maybe then we alter the rule to include a line of sight allowance(using the emergency stop distance +- 10% ) and to stop them parking in ridiculous spots and endangering the public because they are too bullheaded to think their actions through.a miracle nobody Was killed.

  5. I nearly rear ended a car who slammed on their brakes going past a road works truck with ORANGE LIGHTS flashing in south Sydney a few weeks ago, bloody stupid law.

  6. Try slowing down from 110 to 40 with zero warning when towing a loaded up horse float. Stupidest rule ever devised by an inner city bureaucrat that doesn’t drive.

  7. I came across emergency vehicles with lights flashing the other day BUT I couldn’t see them until I was almost beside them as there was a Tow truck blocking my approaching view. There now needs to be a law for tow trucks to NOT block motorists view!

  8. Yesterday om M1 – I’m heading north; cop on southbound lanes has pulled over driver and obviously booking him, cops lights flashing – I reckon I counted at least 10 cars in the 3 lanes heading south not one slowed down. I guess people figure if cop busy booking someone he wont chase them for not slowing down?

    In regard to the cop on bike in this article skid marks indicate bike was stoped in middle of a lane and not on roadside verge – what do people think?

  9. Driving south after xmas about 50 kms NSW side of the border – cops pulled over a Qld driver and the cops lights were on so I hit the brakes ….and no one else bothered. I nearly got tail ended and only slowed to 60 in order to avoid being slammed from behind. About 8 other drivers all swung to right hand lane and continued on their way at 110 kph.

  10. Stupid idea. How about remove the need in the first place to ‘pull over’ any driver for traffic infringement. Isn’t this the safest possible outcome for all parties? Especially on roads of 100km/h or more. Just resolve the revenue collection to cameras.
    This got reported because it was a policeman. I wonder how many other ‘ripple’ accidents have occurred due to this ill thought out ‘idea’.

  11. I’ve seen it in practice on western NSW roads several times. Previously, upon seeing the lights, I would assess the situation as best I could and slow to a safe speed, which could be 10Kmh if its on the road, or 90kmh if its right off the road (as it was in one case).

    Now, the first thing we have to do is check speed is 40, then maybe check the mirror, and after that, check what the issue is actually about. Ooops, now I’m already past the emergency……and the clot behind is 3 feet away, because he didn’t wake up in time.

    Scary stuff, and this is not theory, its how it now happens.

  12. A seriously stupid rule, where are the brains of the bureaucrats who dream up these ideas? Everyone slows down to have a ‘geek’ anyway, but suddenly braking to 40kph from higher speeds is bound to cause more injuries to motorcyclist & scooter riders being slammed into by cars!

    1. The law was introduced in NSW as a knee jerk reaction to a RBT cop being hit by car and cop lost his foot (or maybe part of leg) – of course this not good. However the accident occurred because driver was looking at his phone, not because he hadn’t slowed down – in fact driver had slowed down, then looked at phone, kept driving, hit cop jamming cop’s foot. Cop seemed to think holding up a sign saying “stop” is some form of protection.

  13. Literally the second day this rule was implemented into law, I was driving to work on a SUNDAY at 4:00AM on the M4, almost no cars on the road other than me and another 2 next to me. Next minute I see police lights ahead of the road, I look behind and it’s clear to slowdown, so me and the other cars SLOW from 110km/ph to 40km/ph. Literally a second later and out of nowhere I have bright headlights in my rear view mirrors, just meters away from the back of my car.. My initial reaction was “does this guy know the #%$*en road rules or what?”.. then I just got that feeling.. this looks like a cop. I passed the emergency vehicle on the side of the road and after about 5 seconds I have another look in my mirrors, and now the car behind me has backed off a good 20-30m. Then the car behind me punches it past down the right and yep you guessed it.. it’s a COP. They do a u-turn and starts going the other direction down the motorway. No flashing lights or anything.. ok. This $#%! either 1. Tried to bait me into doing over 40km/ph by staying so close behind me or 2. Completely forgot about the rule. I’m certain they were trying to bait me so they could write me up because that is what NSW police are good for, writing people up for a quick buck! I just wish I had a dashcam for the rear so I could get the police commissioner to please explain what that was all about. Let this be a warning to you all.

  14. Not that many drivers have any idea at all what’s going on any more than 20m in front of their car. I wonder if any of the bureaucrats have ever actually observed traffic flow and how inept a lot of drivers actually are.
    Combine this ridiculous speed reduction rule with the proliferation of barriers (both armco and wire-rope) which are literally on the fog line – giving the traffic absolutely no escape in an emergency situation – and you have a recipe for death.
    That poor copper should consider himself very very lucky – the introduction of this regulation has pretty much guaranteed future serious injuries.

  15. If the driver/rider obeys the road rules in relation to travelling at a safe distance from the vehicle in front and they are watching and observing then this is not a problem. These are the minimum distances in NSW: 60 Kilometres per hour 50 metres
    80 Kilometres per hour 67 metres
    100 Kilometres per hour 84 metres.
    These are based on a 3 second distance.

    1. How many seconds does it take a Semi, B-Double traveling at 110 kmh to slow to 40kmh v a person on a motorcycle in front of them taking into account human reaction time. Do the math and then tell me there is no problem!

  16. Stupid rule introduced. I understand the concern for emergency workers but the rule is a money grab and nanny state law, especially if you force it on both lanes…

  17. One of the most dangerous rules I know of.
    My last 2 trips on the M1 (Newcastle to Sydney) have almost ended in an accident due to heavy vehicles blocking the veiw of a parked police vehicle,
    3 lanes of vehicles in terror, it was the closest I have come to dying on the road in a very long time.

    People are going to die because of this rule.

  18. If you take the roadworker scenario and AS 1742.3 requirement of 40kmph when within 1.2m of traffic it makes sense. What they haven’t done however is also used the associated requirements of advanced warning signs at Dm apart (giving over 200m advanced warning + plus the 200m sight distance to a sign) and a speed buffer zone of 80 when dropping from 110 to 40.

  19. Another insane rule/regulation devised by our out of touch incompetent nameless bureaucrats, as a traffic controller I see every day the lack of attention of some drivers as to what is happening on the road ahead in case they have to make a decision. On a 110 kph road we have to give at least 1.2klm of warning that there is a hazard ahead with signs requiring stages of reductions of speed so that by the time traffic arrives at the location traffic is “hopefully ” travelling at a safe speed though rarely does. Think that one over NSW Govt. & wipe this stupid & dangerous law before many more people are killed or injured due to the lack of foresight by politicians who probably spend very little time behind the wheel anyway

  20. There’s no way on earth I’m ever going to suddenly going to reduce my speed to 40kmh whether on my bike or in a car. That’s almost an emergency stop. That’s a kamikazee move if you ask me. Someone will die when a truck barrels into the rear end of them if they’re doing 40kmh. Who comes up with these bloody stupid rules?

  21. It is the responsibility of the police to ensure the safety of the public not the public’s responsibility to ensure the safety of police.
    Creating a vastly more dangerous situation just to pull over a speeding driver or even a mobile phone user is not acceptable police practice. Police vehicles are fitted with cameras now , merely coming along side and snapping a photo is more than enough to issue a fine and if they let the offender know they’re got with a blast of their sirens there should be no need for stopping to issue a ticket. If there is a situation where emergency vehicles are close to the traffic a warning vehicle should be posted far enough ahead to give the warning to slowdown with a clear sign that there is an obstruction ahead with a 40 sign .
    Should an accident occur as a result of this stupid new rule and there is no advanced warning the police could be held negligently responsible.

    1. Al, it is the 40 KPH law that is stupid and dangerous. There are lots of unforseeable situations where police will have to pull people over and not just take a photo. They need to do that as safely as possible but the manner in which people pull over can be very unpredictable for police. I have no problems with the police or emergency workers etc having lights flashing when they do. Requiring people to immediately slow to 40 KPH from 100 or 110 is stupid and creates more danger than it is trying to prevent. I have personally seen it cause highly dangerous situations twice in the pastfew months

  22. What #&@*wit made this rule up, how bloody ridiculous.

    I already knew about this rule and have seen first hand how scary it is to all of a sudden having to slow down from 110 to 40. Its totally uneccessary and just a tragic event waiting to happen, what all for someone being pulled over for God forbid doing 10k over the limit.

    Wake up powers to be and see that this is bad news for all road users

  23. Flashing and bright light’s dazzle vision making it hard to judge distances. Causing driver’s to fixate on the light and not be able to maneuver away from the lights.

  24. I drive and ride and anyone knows from doing the speed limit and dropping speeds cas not wanting to get caught for speeding over the 40kpm zone period.
    Think about the massive bank up damage it can cause that will hit insurances insurance companies hard and not all wanting to pay us out.

  25. Stupid rule devised by stupid bureaucrats. Slowing down should be the rule not come to a virtual stop suddenly. They are ignoring the rules of physics as well as those of common sense. Next thing we will all be required to wear nappies!

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