In reply to my earlier post – No special speed zones when passing emergency service vehicles except in South Australia (January 4, 2017) I was asked:
I read that the law has changed in Victoria and SA and is about to change in WA. Can we have an update please?
Indeed the law has changed. From 1 July 2017 there has been a 40km/h speed limit when passing emergency vehicles in Victoria – see New speed limit when passing emergency vehicles in Victoria (June 20, 2017). .
Western Australia also introduced a 40km/h speed limit with effect from 2 March 2018 (Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA) r 137A(4); see also WA Road Safety Commission Emergency and breakdown vehicles: Slow Down, Move Over). The WA rule applies whenever there is a stationary incident response (not just an emergency services) vehicle that is ‘is displaying a flashing light other than a turn indicator light or hazard warning light’ (r 137A(1)).
It has been announced that the 40km/h rule will be introduced in both Tasmania (Melissa Mobbs, ‘Tasmanian drivers will be forced to slow down when passing emergency vehicles under new laws’ The Examiner (Online) 22 February 2018) and New South Wales (Troy Grant, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Media release – New 40km hr rule to protect emergency service workers and volunteers, 8 April 2018). The NSW rule will come into effect on 1 September 2018.
The 40km/h road rule has not been introduced in Queensland, the Northern Territory or the Australian Capital Territory but it seems inevitable that it will be introduced at some time.
The law in South Australia remains as discussed in the original post, that is a 25km/h speed limit.
Thank you for responding to my question and updating the laws. Would you please also put this information on your caravan page, as many travellers will be affected by these changes.
This change will be announced by the ACT Minister for Police & Emergency Services today
Even legal people (Michael above) don’t discuss all the relevant issues -just shift you to the legislation. Some states are more than read and blue lights -Victorias include purple. SA has stopped school busses as well(do only 25km/hr). WA includes any incident response vehicles like yellow flashing lights. Then some don’t require you to slow down when going the opposite direction IF there is a median strip. DO YOU know which ones? Go on slam your foot on the brakes in a new state when all the locals aren’t (because there is a median strip)and see what happens. Why if we are having new laws across the country can’t we have the same law nationally. Lets admit we are over governed and making laws where common sense should prevail. After 100 years of Federation we must have more laws than any other country and they are getting more confusing. Come on Australia -tie some funding to nationally consistent laws!
So do we need a matrix on the dash to explain this as we move through three or four states?
1. NSW 40 km/hour with all stationary red and blue flashing lights. (median strip??)
2. SA 24Km/hr for all emergency and people pulled over with flashing lights -doesn’t apply to the opposing flow if there is a median strip AND school buses.
3. QLD slow down and pull over to the side of the road if the vehicle is coming towards you -no sharp movements.
4. NT -who knows?
5. VIC 40km/hr -red and blue AND purple lights (transport folk?)
6. TAS 40km/hr for red and blue.
7. WA any colour flashing light (incident response vehicles can be yellow too)
You’re right, we direct you to the legislation as that has the actual answer and people like me can’t answer every question. We give a simplification but if you want all the details its better to go to the legislation rather than rely on an interpretation (either from me or the government). Having said that your’re also correct that I haven’t mentioned school buses etc as this is not a blog on driving and road rules, it’s a blog about emergency services and the law. SA does have a 25km/h speed limit for buses but it’s not in the provision that deals with emergency vehicles so it’s not a subject for discussion by me on this blog.
With respect to median strips, neither SA nor Victoria require a driver to slow down if the emergency vehicle is on the other side of a median strip – Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) s 83(2); Road Safety Road Rules 2017 (Vic) r 79A(5). In WA you don’t have to slow down if the incident response vehicle is on the other side of a two-way carriageway, that is there doesn’t need to be a median strip – Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA) s 137A(5).
With respect to your matrix I’ll give that some thought when the laws are passed but note that at this stage the emergency service speed zone is only in SA, Victoria and WA. Even though NSW and Tas have announced that they are going to introduce the speed zones, they haven’t yet done so so we don’t know what those rules will say. We know that in Queensland, the NT and the ACT there is no special zone (yet).
i agree one rule countrywide would make it much simpler for everyone.
The above is not clear with school busses -if a school bus is stopped in SA then you must go by at 25km/hr (not 24 as above) If you go past at 85km/hr you are over 45km/hr and you will get $1000 fine and 9 points which means your licence is gone too.
From SA website
“These speeding offences also apply to exceeding the 25km/h speed limit when passing a school bus or an emergency service speed zone. (RTA S82(1) RTA S83(1)(a) )”
Add this to your matrix
IN WA and I quote “When giving way to an emergency vehicle DO NOT break the law (e.g. Drive through a red light or speed).”
but in my home state of QLD
“You may drive onto the wrong side of the road or drive through a red traffic light to get
out of the way of an emergency vehicle if it is safe to do so.” P132 of your keys to driving in QLD”
Just think to yourself when you have 2 seconds left to make a decision. Now which state am I in. There are seven in the matrix -Oh this should be simple! -NOT
With respect to making way for emergency vehicles – see https://emergencylaw.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/making-way-for-emergency-vehicles/
I hope that you will pardon my going a little off topic. I live in NSW and I am interested in the new regulation regarding passing stationary emergency vehicles that display red or blue lights, Road Rules Part 7 Division 4.
iIam curious about the use of the word “or” concerning the lights rather than using “and/or” as police vehicles tend to display both coloured lights at the same time. Just a lame thought but could a defence be mounted based upon “or” meaning either colour singularly but not both?
Now to the real question.
Whilst a vehicle must give way to all persons (desigated emergency persons and civilians) in the vicinity of that vehicle with flashing lights, the imposed speed limit only applies exactly adjacent to the emergency vehicle. This would surely require a speed measuring device mounted at 90 degrees to the emergency vehicle or the speed was such that a magistrate would accept Police testomy that the the regulation had been breached.
I can envisage some interesting scenarios. If a speedster is signaled by Police (whether by gesture, lights or alarm), the speedster is obliged to come to a halt as soon as possible, (possibily) without regard for the lack of a stopping lane or some off highway safety area. Thus we have a possible situation that a Police car and the speedster are blocking one lane and it is quite logical that lanes toward the median strip, should appropriately slow; however’ in many scenarios, the speedster will come to a halt fully off the bitumen road or substantially into a bush area. Thinking the Hume Hwy. Is there a legal definition of where a road begins as distinct from a verge, whether manmade or natural?
In travelling the Hume , I can see Police vehicles that have pulled over speedsters, and both are frequently well off the bitumen, then three lanes of vehicles pass safely by at 110kph. Must all of those vehicles now reduce to 40kph?
Law is not self-executing and has to be given effect to by the judge. There is much criticism of the use of “and/or” in legal writing (see that great legal authority, Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/And/or). I have no doubt a judge would interpret the rule to say that ‘or’ includes ‘and’. That makes sense because some emergency vehicles only have red flashing lights (Red Cross vehicles, mines rescue or other rescue vehicles and some other – Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2017 (NSW) Sch 2 r 114(7)). Further r 4 says that “a police vehicle, an ambulance, a fire fighting vehicle, a vehicle used by a Traffic Commander or Traffic Emergency Patroller… a State Emergency Service vehicle or a vehicle used by an accredited rescue unit” can be fitted with “a blue or red light” but we all know they do have ‘blue and red’ lights. Whilst it’s grammatically interesting I would not put any faith that a ‘defence [could] be mounted based upon “or” meaning either colour singularly but not both’
It’s not true that the speed limit applies ‘exactly adjacent to the emergency vehicle’. The Road Rules 2014 (NSW) Rule 78-1(2) says ‘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.’ What constitutes driving ‘past’ is a debatable point. Further, r 78-1(3) says that the driver ‘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’. That imposes an obligation to maintain that speed for some, albeit undefined, distance. I don’t see why a radar or Lidar some distance ahead of or behind the vehicle could measure that speed as the vehicle passes, and continues past, the emergency vehicle.
I’m not sure what you mean by the statement that ‘If a speedster is signalled by Police (whether by gesture, lights or alarm), the speedster is obliged to come to a halt as soon as possible, (possibly) without regard for the lack of a stopping lane or some off highway safety area’. The rules don’t say that. A driver is required to ‘obey any reasonable direction for the safe and efficient regulation of traffic given to the person by a police officer or authorised person, whether or not the person may contravene another provision of these Rules by obeying the direction’ (Road Rules 2014 (NSW) r 304). If police direct you to stop you may indeed stop in a place where otherwise stopping is not permitted but you have to have regard to what is both reasonable and safe in the circumstances.
There is a definition of a road and a road related area. A road is ‘an area that is open to or used by the public and is developed for, or has as one of its main uses, the driving or riding of motor vehicles’. A ‘road related area’ is ‘(a) an area that divides a road, or (b) a footpath or nature strip adjacent to a road, or (c) an area that is open to the public and is designated for use by cyclists or animals, or (d) an area that is not a road and that is open to or used by the public for driving, riding or parking vehicles, or (e) a shoulder of a road, or (f) any other area that is open to or used by the public and that has been declared … to be an area to which specified provisions of this Act or the statutory rules apply’ (Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) s 4). A vehicle and police vehicle that are both off the road and are on the ‘verge’ are still on a road related area. And a reference to ‘road’ includes a ‘road related area’ and a reference to a road includes a road related area (Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) s 5. The Road Rules 2014 (NSW) are made under the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) so that definition provision in s 5 will apply to the Road Rules). The effect is then it doesn’t matter if the police vehicle is on the road or a road related area, if you’re passing it and it’s got its red/blue warning lights on, you must slow down.
If the ‘Police vehicles that have pulled over speedsters, and both are … well off the bitumen, then … all of those vehicles [must] now reduce to 40kph’.
In a logical comparison using OR, it is usually said that if one or the other or both of the input conditions are TRUE then the result is also TRUE. If none of the inputs are true then the result is FALSE (not true). In an AND comparison, both inputs would need to be TRUE for the result to be TRUE. If none of the inputs are true or one is true then the result would be FALSE. That would be true in law.
I take it then Stephen you accept that where the traffic rules say red or blue light that also includes red and blue – that is the input conditions to meet the requirements of the rules are red light, or blue light, or both.