Tue, 4 Sep, 2018
New road rule slammed as motorists claim it makes roads more dangerous
A new road rule that requires drivers to slow down to 40km/h when passing emergency service vehicles has been slammed by lobby groups.
Under the new law, which came into effect in New South Wales on September 1, drivers must slow to 40km/h when passing stationary emergency vehicles displaying red and blue flashing lights, regardless of speed limit.
The rule, which is in a 12-month trial period, applies to drivers travelling in either direction unless the lanes are divided by a median strip.
Motorists also need to give way to any person on foot near a parked emergency vehicle flashing its lights, according to the rule.
Failure to comply with the rule will cost you $448 and three demerit points.
However, lobby groups are concerned about the wider implications of the road rule, particularly on freeways where speed limits are much higher than a 40km/h.
Steve Pearce, Chairman of the Motorcycle Council of NSW, told Sydney Morning Herald: “By suddenly reducing the speed limit on a major carriageway to 40km/h we are effectively swapping the safety of emergency workers for the safety of ordinary motorists.”
He warned that this could lead to rear end collisions.
"Anyone who has driven on a high speed road knows the effect of braking suddenly from 110km/h to 40km/h.
"The resulting snaking of traffic can produce a trail of rear end collisions, and more often than not this is what happens."
Richard Calver, Adviser on Compliance for the National Road Transport Association, told Sydney Morning Herald that the organisation were concerned for trucks drivers, who have a harder time slowing down.
"We're saying if you're coming around a corner and you only see the emergency vehicle at that point in time, then it might not be practicable for a heavy vehicle to decelerate to 40km/h as it passes," said Mr Calver.
"But as long as they're decelerating, then they've done the right thing."
Mr Calver said the organisation supports the trial of the rule, but hopes the rule is modified before it becomes a permanent law.
"We absolutely support a trial. As to whether or not this increases safety generally on the roads, you've got quite a few phenomenon here [to consider]," he said.
"There's no magic in 40km/h. [For the same road rule] it's 25km/h in South Australia, for example."
South Australia has a similar law introduced in 2014, but drivers need to slow to 25km/h.
Victoria introduced the law in July 2017, but the penalties include a lesser fine and there is no loss of demerit points.