Changes To 40 KM/H Road Rule After 962 Infringements Issued In Trial

A much-debated road rule aimed to keep emergency services officers working at roadsides safe, will be reformed before it is formally implemented in NSW, following a year-long trial.

The state government says it has spent the last 12 months monitoring how the rule has impacted NSW roads, and while the rule will continue to operate changes are being made to who and when it applies, after broad feedback from the public and stakeholders.

Under the current law, all drivers are required to slow down to 40 kilometres per hour when passing stationary emergency vehicles with flashing blue or red lights.

The year-long trial resulted in 926 infringements issued across the state with drivers facing fines of up to $448 and the loss of three demerit points.

Changes, which are set to take effect from September 26, will no longer require drivers to slow down to 40km/h if they are driving on roads with speed limits of 90km/h or above.

Those travelling on roads with speed limits of 80km/h or under will still be required to slow down to 40km/h.

The rule is also being expanded to include not just emergency vehicles with flashing lights, but tow trucks and breakdown assistance vehicles which display yellow flashing lights while stopped on the road.

“We’re now implementing changes to make the rule safer for everyone,” Transport Minister Andrew Constance said on Tuesday.

Photo: Getty Images

However, drivers along roads with limits of 90km/h or more are still required to slow to a speed which is safe and reasonable in the circumstances.

Those drivers will also need to keep sufficient space between their vehicle and the breakdown assistance or emergency vehicle and workers, and where possible on multi-lane roads, change lanes to keep the lane next to the vehicle free.

Regional Roads Minister Paul Toole said the changes were about ensuring drivers slow down safely to avoid hard braking.

“If you are driving on roads 90km/h or over you will need to consider how close you are to the stationary vehicle and slow to a safer speed and give as much space to the vehicle as you can,” he said.

Around 85 percent of people who crashed where emergency service vehicles were stopped were driving along roads with speed limits of 80km/h or below, according to 2014-2018 data from the NSW Government

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NSW Police say they have adjusted their own practices in response, forcing officers to stop in safer locations and with more visibility to approaching drivers where possible.

Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy urged all motorists to always “drive to the conditions” and said the new policy would ensure the safety of all 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,” Corboy said.

As part of the new policy, the government said they are also in the process of designing new “advance warning signs” for emergency services to use in these scenarios.

Most other states already have similar rules in place, including Victoria, the ACT, Western Australia and South Australia.

South Australia’s laws are the strictest with drivers facing fines of up to $1036 or a maximum loss of 9 demerit points.

Featured Image: Getty