Today’s question relates to:

… the use of an exemption under ARR 306 for driver training purposes.

Hypothetical situation: A new staff member is undertaking driver training within an emergency service organisation. The participant has successfully completed “in service” pre-requirements & assessments of road law and routine driving behaviours and skills, they are then ready to start the in-service emergency driver training block.

If an “internally approved” driving educator, that has not been formally dispatched to a “real” case; asks the participant to drive under emergency conditions (using lights and siren) for the purpose of training and an exemption was required during that drive, for example, exceeding the speed limit or safely negotiating an intersection through a red traffic light, would that be considered in the circumstances to be reasonable and therefore allowing an exemption to be requested.

Is training a reasonable purpose for a “rule” not to apply to the driver under ARR306?

There is a need under WHS to train persons in the equipment and complexities of emergency driving and waiting for the new participant to attend a “real” case is not always possible with an in service driving instructor being in the vehicle. Being able to drive using emergency conditions whilst in the training situation would have many safety benefits, such as being able to scale up the complexities of the emergency drives, being able to timely debrief the driver and expose the driver to a range of situations rather than hoping a roundabout or traffic light controlled intersection pops up on a given “real” emergency drive.

I would be very interested in your interpretation.

First it depends what jurisdiction you are in. Remember that at least in NSW a vehicle is only an emergency vehicle when being driven by an emergency worker in the course of his or her duties in responding to an emergency (see Court of Appeal dismisses appeal by RFS tanker driver involved in fatal collision (October 13, 2017)). Training is not an emergency so the NSW version of the rule could not apply.

In other jurisdictions we can try to understand legislation by looking at other provisions. There is a rule in statutory interpretation that every section, in fact every word, is there for a reason. If an interpretation means that a particular section, or word, serves no purpose then that is an argument against that interpretation. The Road Safety Road Rules 2017 (Vic) r 305A is a unique Victorian provision. It provides that there is an exemption for drivers of vehicles being used for police driver training.  If rule 305 ‘Exemption for drivers of police vehicles’ applied to drivers under training, there would be no need for r 305A, that is r 305A would have no work to do so the better interpretation is that r 305 does not apply to drivers in training. There is no equivalent provision for the driver of emergency vehicles during training so if police drivers in training need r 305A, and there is no provision for emergency workers, then emergency workers in training do not get an exemption. If the government wanted to give that exemption there would be an equivalent to r 305A for emergency workers. Given that the rules are meant to be national (notwithstanding inter-state differences) the need for s 305A in Victoria would equally imply that in other jurisdictions, rules 305 and 306 do not apply to drivers in training.


Rule 306 cannot apply to NSW or other jurisdictions that define ‘emergency vehicle’ by reference to a response to an actual emergency.

In other jurisdictions one can argue that the rules do not apply to drivers in training. If they did, there would be nothing for r 305A of the Road Safety Road Rules 2017 (Vic) to do. Having said that, if the use of the vehicle was endorsed by the service there could be an argument that the criteria for r 306 have been met and then it would be up to a court to determine the scope, and limits of the rules. In the absence of a definitive court ruling, I would conclude that the exemptions do not apply to drivers in training, other than police trainees in Victoria (or any other state with an equivalent provision).

POSTSCRIPT (4 July 2022)

A commentator on facebook has also brought to my attention that WA also provides an exemption for police drivers under training Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA) r 282A. In that state the vehicle must be ‘built or modified for the purpose of police driver training and displays markings of a type approved by the Commissioner of Police’. The markings are, I understand, an orange stripe.

In any event this further confirms my opinion. If rule 305 (or r 280 in WA; exemption for police) or r 306 (or r 281 in WA; exemption for emergency drivers) allowed the use of lights and sirens under training there would be no need for WA’s rule 282A or Victoria’s rule 305A.

This blog is made possible with generous financial support from the Australasian College of Paramedicine, the Australian Paramedics Association (NSW), Natural Hazards Research Australia, NSW Rural Fire Service Association and the NSW SES Volunteers Association. I am responsible for the content in this post including any errors or omissions. Any opinions expressed are mine, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or understanding of the donors.