While there are different road rules for different states and territories across Australia, authorities are warning motorists driving in New South Wales that hefty fines could be issued to drivers who don’t follow new rules that have been introduced.
According to the new rules, which were introduced on Saturday, drivers across the state must slow down to 40 kilometres an hour when passing any stationary emergency vehicle that is displaying the red or blue flashing lights. In addition, drivers must give way to any person on foot in the immediate area of the emergency vehicle.
Motorists are not allowed to increase their speed until they are a safe distance away from the emergency vehicle. Failing to follow the rules will see drivers hit with a $448 fine and three demerit points on their driver’s licence. The rules apply to cars and vehicles travelling in both directions, unless the road is specifically divided by a median strip.
“Police, firefighters, ambulance officers, State Emergency Service and rescue volunteers perform difficult and dangerous work for the community,” Road Safety said. “But just like everyone doing their job, they should feel safe and know that they are protected at work.”
The rule, which is now in force, applies to a range of vehicles from the NSW Police Force, any Ambulance Service of NSW vehicles, Fire and Rescue and Rural Fire Service vehicles, Volunteer Rescue Association vehicles and Traffic Emergency Response vehicles.
The NSW Government will monitor the safety and traffic impacts of the new rule for 12 months as they continue to consult with NSW Police, various emergency service organisations and other stakeholders. The new rule was introduced to provide drivers with certainty when it comes to speed and emergency services.
Similar to school zones, work zones and areas with high pedestrian activities, 40km/h is considered a safe speed around vulnerable road users. Drivers should begin slowing down when they first see the blue or red lights flashing, being sure to pay attention to current road conditions and other vehicles.
While it may take some getting used to for drivers in New South Wales, similar rules have already been introduced in Western Australia and Victoria. For South Australians, drivers are forced to decrease their speed to 25km/h around emergency vehicles.