40km/h emergency vehicle slow down rule axed for highways

Motorists will be required to slow down to a speed that is "reasonable for the circumstances" on roads with a speed limit of 90km/h or more when passing emergency vehicles with flashing lights.
Motorists will be required to slow down to a speed that is "reasonable for the circumstances" on roads with a speed limit of 90km/h or more when passing emergency vehicles with flashing lights.

Motorists will no longer be required to slow down to 40 km/h on highways and motorways when passing flashing emergency vehicles in changes announced by the state government on Tuesday.

The government implemented a 12-month trail of the controversial slow down rule in 2018.

But now under the new rule, effective from September 26, motorists will be required to slow down to a speed that is "safe and reasonable for the circumstances" on roads with a speed limit of 90km/h or more.

The change is in an effort to avoid unsafe practices such as "hard-braking" on high speed roads.

Drivers must also provide sufficient space between their vehicle and the emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights and are required to change lanes on a multi-lane road if it is safe to do so.

The rule also has been expanded to apply to motorists when passing stationary tow trucks and breakdown assistance vehicles displaying flashing yellow lights.

On lower speed roads, with a speed limit of 80km/h or less, motorists will continue to be required to slow to 40km/h when passing stationary tow trucks, breakdown assistance or emergency vehicles displaying flashing lights.

Minister for Roads Andrew Constance and Minister for Regional Roads Paul Toole said 926 infringements were issued during the 12-month trial, which aimed to keep emergency service workers safe while working by the roadside.

The change in rules aims to avoid near misses like this.

"We've monitored the impact of the rule over the past year and taken on board feedback from the public and stakeholders about the trial," Mr Constance said.

"We're now implementing changes to make the rule safer for everyone."

"These changes are about slowing down safely," Mr Toole said.

Under the slow down road rule, motorists must not increase their speed until they are a sufficient distance past all the vehicles and people involved.

The rule does not apply when a stationary tow truck, breakdown assistance or emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights is on the opposite side of a divided road separated by a median strip.

NSW Police also adjusted its practices so officers are stopping in safer locations which are more visible to approaching drivers.

New advance warning signs are being designed for use by emergency services.

Assistant Commisioner Michael Corboy said the new rule is about ensuring the safety of not only police, but also other road users.

"We need to provide a safe working environment for our police officers, whose job it is to enforce the road rules, in an effort to improve driver behaviour and drive down the road toll," Mr Corboy said.

This story 40km/h emergency vehicle slow down rule axed for highways first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.