This question comes from an anonymous correspondent I’m asked:
What can you tell us about Declaring a False Emergency. I have been advised that Police actually declare a “false” emergency when they pull you over using their lights and sirens.
I’ll assume this question comes from Victoria given the recent discussions on the new speed limits in that state. The answer is that whoever has advised my correspondent has no idea what they’re talking about – but I can see the issue. If you think that the new r 79A, that imposes a 40km/h limit, is about ‘emergency’ workers then you might think it doesn’t apply to police who say have pulled someone up for speeding as there is no emergency. For the rule to apply, so one might think, it must be a ‘false’ emergency. But that’s not correct.
First r 79A applies whenever a driver is approaching ‘a stationary or slow-moving police vehicle, emergency vehicle, enforcement vehicle or escort vehicle …’ There is no reference to their being an emergency just a vehicle of those descriptions. Under Victorian law ‘police vehicle’ means ‘means any vehicle driven by a person who is— (a) a police officer; and (b) driving the vehicle in the course of their duties as a police officer…’ again no reference to an emergency.
With respect to exemptions from the road rules, police rely on r 305, not r 306. Rule 306 applies to ‘emergency vehicles’ so even in those states where an emergency vehicle is only an emergency vehicle when it is being used in response to an emergency, that doesn’t apply to police. Police have an exemption from the road rules when it is reasonable in the circumstances and they are taking reasonable care. In some circumstances they don’t even need red/blue lights or a siren (Road Safety Road Rules 2017 (Vic) r 305).
Police have a number of powers to require a driver to pull over. A police officer may give a driver a ‘direction to stop’ by the ‘use of red and blue flashing lights on; or sounding of an alarm, siren or other warning device from— a motor vehicle that is being driven by a police officer in the course of his or her duties as a police officer’ (Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) s 64A(5)). There is no pretence that there is an ‘emergency’.
Police are entitled to use their red/blue lights and sirens in order to communicate to a driver that they are required to stop. Rule 79A applies so that other drivers are required to slow down to 40km/h when passing a stationary police car with red/blue lights activated regardless of whether the police have pulled over to issue a speeding ticket or to take part in a response to a multi-vehicle accident. There is nothing to say that the use of red/blue lights or r 79A is somehow limited to an ‘emergency’. So the premise that ‘Police actually declare a “false” emergency when they pull you over using their lights and sirens’ is wrong.
Where do people come up with this stuff from?!
I’d like to see more reporting to the Public from Police ( NSW in particular ), after a significant event has occurred, where police placed the Public AT RISK by speeding through a congested traffic area.
Recently in Western Sydney, at around 22:00 hrs. one evening a few weeks ago, I counted eleven ( 11 ) police vehicles screaming the traffic, heading ‘West’ on the Great Western Highway. That’s just the one’s I personally counted. I probably missed a few coming from other directions.
Marked & unmarked vehicles. Lights & sirens activated. Through stop signs. Through red lights. Weaving in & out of traffic …..
What was so important to get to ???? What was so important to RISK colliding with innocent members of the Public ???
No event released to the Public. Nothing on the News. No mention of ANYTHING !!!!
Pardon my joke, but this is where people talk about a McDonalds special of free coffee & donuts for police !!
“What was so important to get to ????” I don’t know, active shooter? Person driving down a crowded pedestrian mall? Explosion in a crowded centre? Officer in trouble seeking urgent assistance? Is it up to us to say; and what difference would it make for the police to announce, after the event, what was going on. Isn’t that just voyeurism? I remember when I was in NSW Ambulance being asked to respond back to our station to collect a specialist vehicle and then respond to the scene of the emergency. Whether that was warranted or not is not for me to say (we didn’t get there, the vehicle we were sent to collect wouldn’t start until we got the mechanics from the local service station to come over and by then we weren’t required) but I’m sure that people watching would have also made jokes about meal time or overtime or some such to see an ambulance respond under lights and sirens to its own station, but that’s not what was going on.
Seriously, it does make a difference in this age of ‘reporting’ everything.
If police ( et al ) want to maintain credibility in the eyes of the Public, situations like ‘whatever it was’ need to be declared.
Does it take a ‘tragic accident’ for a disclosure?
Dragging up an old thread here but I am seeking information relating to the recent “viral” video of a Victorian bicycle rider, pulled over for use of flashing red and blue lights. I have trolled through much of the Victorian legislation and cannot find definitive directions regarding pushbikes and these lights. Obviously the use of these lights on other than emergency vehicles presents an unacceptable risk to general motorists (by way of confusion, intended or otherwise) and additionally with respect to the 40Km/h slowing requirements.
I guess there was a time where these things didn’t tend to occur for fear of unwanted police attention and criticism from the general public for socially acceptable behavior, but now it would seem that being “Karen” is somehow virtuous.
I haven’t seen the video but my quick un-researched thought is that the although bicycles are bound by the road rules they are not bound by the vehicle/registration standards so all the rules about lights would not apply to them. The ROAD SAFETY ROAD RULES 2017 (Vic)- REG 259 says what lights must be on a bicycle but not what lights must not be on a bicycle. The only offence they would commit (if any) might be related to ‘impersonating’ a police officer but that would depend on their actual intention.
Red and blue flashing lights are used by various emergency services vehicles, so the bicycle rider would have to be using police identification on his person and/or bicycle to be accused of impersonating a police officer. Bicycles are specifically allowed to use flashing red lights to the rear of a bicycle and there is no law preventing the use of a flashing blue light anywhere on a bicycle.
I have used a strobe flashing blue and white light on the front of my bicycle for several years with no issue.
As a former motorcycle policeman, I would be very quick to disabuse any police officer that stopped me for using a blue flashing light, of the notion that this is illegal in Victoria.
I’m curious how a bicycle displaying red and blue flashing lights presents an unacceptable risk to general motorists? Bicycles are not allowed on freeways, so this would only occur on roads with speed limits 80 kph or slower and if traffic slowed to 40 kph because a bicycle displayed such lights, how is that an unacceptable risk to motorists? I’d suggest that slower traffic would generally make it safer for both motorists and the cyclist they are passing.