New laws requiring drivers to slow down while passing emergency vehicles at the side of the road

On 14 April 2018 new laws will commence that improve safety for our emergency responders.

These laws require you to slow down to a speed that would enable you to, if necessary, stop safely when approaching and passing police or emergency vehicles that are stationary or slow moving which are displaying red and blue flashing lights.  (A fire truck extinguishing roadside spot fires is an example of a slow moving emergency vehicle).

You must not exceed 40km/h when passing the vehicle and not increase your speed until you have passed any emergency workers on foot and are a sufficient distance from the scene.

You must give way to all emergency workers on foot at the scene.

The new rules do not apply to vehicles on the other side of a divided road (a road separated by a median strip) from an emergency vehicle.

The new law means improved safety for emergency and enforcement workers who are performing work on the road or roadside, as well as others who are present at the scene.

This new law is consistent with existing speed restrictions in place in other areas where vulnerable road users are experienced, such as school zones, road works, and town centres.

What type of emergency vehicles are covered by the new law?

The law applies to emergency vehicles that are displaying flashing red and blue lights.  This includes:

  • AFP and ACT Policing vehicles
  • ACT Ambulance Service vehicles
  • ACT Fire & Rescue vehicles
  • Rural Fire Service vehicles
  • ACT State Emergency Service vehicles
  • Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting vehicles

Examples of emergency vehicles

The obligation to slow down does not apply to tow trucks, breakdown vehicles or other vehicles displaying amber flashing lights.

This new law applies on all road types.

The new law applies to all roads, including highways, parkways and other high speed roads.

If there is a median strip between your vehicle and the emergency or enforcement vehicle you do not need to slow down.

A median strip is the centre area of the road that separates vehicles travelling in opposite directions. Median strips come in all shapes and sizes. A median strip can be covered in grass, it can include or be a wire rope or concrete barrier or be as simple as a continuous painted island.

Examples of median strips

Drivers may be fined.

Drivers may be fined $257 and 2 demerit points, although the primary purpose of the new law is to educate the community about safe speeds around incidents to prevent the death or serious injury of workers and others at the scene.