Controversial road rules requiring motorists to slow dramatically when passing emergency vehicles have been amended in NSW.
The State Government implemented a trial requiring people to slow to 40km/h when passing emergency vehicles with flashing lights in September 2018.
From September 26, motorists on roads with a signposted limit of 90km/h or more need to reduce their speed to a level “reasonable for the circumstances”. The rule has also been expanded to include tow trucks and roadside assistance vehicles.
Drivers still need to slow to 40km/h on roads with a speed limit or 80km/h or less. But they can maintain their speed if the hazard is on the other side of the road and traffic is separated by a median strip or physical barrier.
Guidelines released by NSW RMS say “motorists must also provide sufficient space between their vehicle and the stationary tow truck, breakdown assistance or emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights. This will include changing lanes on a multi-lane road if it is safe to do so”.
While the original rule was intended to protect people stopped on the side of the road, crtics said it introduced new hazards as motorists were forced to slow from 110km/h to 40km/h on motorways.
Police Association of NSW president Tony King told News.com.au in February that officers “have had some serious concerns about the 40km/h zone which was introduced by the NSW Government”.
More than 6000 people commented on a NSW Road Safety Facebook page within 12 hours of the announcement.
Drivers largely welcomed the change on social media.
Michael Blythe said “as a truck driver I applaud the common sense that has prevailed in the changes”.
“Should have been this way from the start, as it is not only unrealistic but highly dangerous to even attempt to slow a large vehicle to 40km/h from highway speed at the drop of a hat.”
Frances Breen said it was “about time sense prevailed”, while Meredith Pallister said “the amount of times I’ve nearly been rear ended or have been tailgated on the freeway for obeying the law is frightening”.
Drivers who break the rule face a $457 fine and three demerit points, as well as a maximum court penalty of $2,200.
Victorian, Queensland and Australian Capital Territory motorists are required to slow to
40km/h when passing emergency vehicles, while drivers passing police and other first responders in South Australia must slow to 25km/h or less.
More information: NSW Transport
Originally published as ‘Highly dangerous’ road rule dropped