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ACT’s 40km/h speed limit near emergency vehicles to stay despite NSW changes

Lachlan Roberts 23 September 2019 70
ACT Road Safety Minister Shane Rattenbury

ACT Road Safety Minister Shane Rattenbury said the law is a simple one. Photo: File.

The ACT Government will stick with its road rule which commands drivers to slow down when passing emergency service vehicles on the side of the road, despite NSW adapting its laws to make it “safer for everyone”.

As of Thursday (26 September), motorists in NSW will only be required to slow down to 40 km/h when passing stationary emergency vehicles when the speed limit is less than 90 km/h.

On roads with speed limits over 90 km/h, drivers will need to slow to a speed which is “safe and reasonable for the circumstances” and give sufficient space between their vehicle and the emergency vehicle.

After completing a 12-month trial, which saw over 900 infringements issued, NSW Roads Minister Andrew Constance said the NSW Government made changes to its law to help avoid “unsafe practices like hard braking”.

“We’ve monitored the impact of the rule over the past year and taken on board feedback from the public and stakeholders about the trial,” Mr Constance said. “We are now implementing changes to make the rule safer for everyone.”

When asked if the ACT Government would consider implementing the same changes as NSW, Minister for Road Safety Shane Rattenbury said he will monitor the current road rules to see if they are having their intended impact.

“For our police and emergency services workers, this is their workspace and they have a right to feel safe in their working environment,” Mr Rattenbury said. “It’s a simple message – when you see flashing lights ahead, slow to 40 km/h to protect those who protect you.

“The ACT will continue to monitor developments in other jurisdictions and whether the rules as they currently operate in the ACT are having the intended impact and protecting our community.”

Drivers who fail to slow down to the required speed may face a penalty of two demerit points and a fine of $257.

An evaluation report of the NSW trial found that the 40 km/h limit around emergency vehicles increased the risk to drivers, particularly on high-speed roads and in the presence of heavy vehicles.

The report also said there were generally negative public perceptions of the trial rule and its implementation, with only seven per cent of analyzed comments positive about the trial.

Earlier this year, NRMA also called for a review into the law, stating that there needs to be a commonsense approach.

“It is really important that we take a commonsense approach to this policy, which means sensibly slowing down and allowing space to emergency services who are on the side of the road, but not in a way that puts your life at risk or others at risk,” NRMA spokesperson Peter Khoury said at the time.

“The whole purpose of this policy was to change behaviour and to make people aware of the risks. It doesn’t mean trying to get from 100 km/h to 40 in five metres because that is dangerous.

“Instead it means slowing down sensibly and giving people space.”


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70 Responses to ACT’s 40km/h speed limit near emergency vehicles to stay despite NSW changes
Cleve Gabriel Cleve Gabriel 5:17 pm 26 Sep 19

Here they go again

GWD72 5:33 am 26 Sep 19

Police need to use common sense when they pull over a speeding car. Don’t block half a lane of a 100km rd e.g. Tuggeranong Parkway. This is going to be dangerous even without the slow down to 40 rule.
People are cautious when they see flashing lights. This rule is pointless and not safe on busy high speed roads.

Stephen Esdaile Stephen Esdaile 8:43 pm 24 Sep 19

Canberra: first to adopt a stupid rule, last to drop it.

Peter McDonald Peter McDonald 5:34 pm 24 Sep 19

I can’t remember the last time I saw a copper booking someone, mostly speed cameras. If they have their flashing lights are we to slow to 40?

Wade Bermingham Wade Bermingham 5:02 pm 24 Sep 19

Its a tooth and nail fight for common sense they won't just do it in the meantime we should put drag shoots or anchors on trucks

Mark Ramsay Mark Ramsay 2:52 pm 24 Sep 19

One minute it’s be consistent with nsw (when it suits)then it’s not 😠

Kim Legge Kim Legge 12:49 pm 24 Sep 19

Krystal Lee Morel ACT laws different -.-

rfc 10:27 am 24 Sep 19

Is Mr Rattenbury ignoring stakeholders feedback on this law? Last February (see Riotact 6 Feb 2019) the Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA) and NRMA called on the ACT Government to review the law, “saying it causes more danger on Canberra roads”. AFPA president Angela Smith said “she had spoken to police members who have witnessed countless near-misses due to drivers rapidly decreasing their speed and nearly causing collisions”.

Has Rattenbury used this information in his decision on not adopting the changes made by NSW?

Laws should be the same across borders (in most cases) which removes confusion resulting in less accidents. How many accidents on the Tuggernong Parkway (when motorist decelerate from 100 km to 40 km) are needed before ACT adopts the new changes NSW has made?

rationalobserver 9:43 am 24 Sep 19

Relatively simple solution; all emergency vehicles to have an accompanying warning truck with flash lights and signage directing traffic into the other lane.
It’s no sillier an idea than the one we are all commenting on here.

Daniel Grallelis Daniel Grallelis 8:37 am 24 Sep 19

Unsafe, ridiculous law. Should be changed.

Rebecca McGrath Rebecca McGrath 7:37 am 24 Sep 19

Yeah, let's have different rules for everyone. At least when it causes an accident somewhere the emergency services will be nearby!

Neenie Baines Neenie Baines 6:47 am 24 Sep 19

It’s such a stupid law.. so man near accidents. You can’t see the lights when you’re 50 meters away... then people realize and slam on their breaks.

The concept had merit, but it just puts more people at risk.

Steve Mcleish Steve Mcleish 3:14 am 24 Sep 19

Another reason why self government should be abolished and Canberra should adopt the laws of NSW.

Rosario Garreffa Rosario Garreffa 11:23 pm 23 Sep 19

So Victoria is 40 for emergency vehicles, NSW is for emergency and yellow lights over 90, but not 80 however where safe you should change lanes. The Act will follow Victoria oh and SA is 25 km around emergency vehicles....well nicely f@#ked up everyone , politicians are the very worst of us are they not? Revune raising arses, if they actually wanted to consider everyone's safety, first thing would be to nationalise the laws.

Gary Purchase Gary Purchase 10:38 pm 23 Sep 19

Happened while I was driving on the Hume a few months ago. Coming over a rise on a slight bend, cop on side of road booking someone, 3 semis (two singles and a b-double), a ute and trailer, around 6 cars, all braking, swerving, and changing lanes, to miss each other, because two cars in front tried to brake from 110kph to 40. Blind luck no contact was made. Stupid rule!!!

Judith Deland Judith Deland 10:28 pm 23 Sep 19

Think the NSW has it right. Having to slow down quickly in a high speed area when there is a truck behind you, would also be of danger, to the emergency services people. Usually people do moderate their speed, and change lanes. Think there should be penalties for people who drive dangerously through such situations, but some flexibility for drivers to decide what is reasonably safe is in order. Can’t say I’ve been a fan of some of Mr Rattenbury’s ideas. Rather odd even.

Tracy Gorman Tracy Gorman 9:43 pm 23 Sep 19

This government needs to go

Matt James Matt James 9:39 pm 23 Sep 19

This is an extremely dangerous rule. On the roads to Tuggeranong as an example, having to drive at 40kmh without warning is like driving your car at 60kmh at a brick wall. Beyond dangerous.

It’s very worrying the very major changes to the ACT that Shane Rattenbury has orchestrated, I’m sure with good intentions - but omg many of them are not good or even slightly reasonable.

Peter Major Peter Major 9:33 pm 23 Sep 19

Rattenbury, has no plans full stop

Pamela Tomlinson Pamela Tomlinson 8:59 pm 23 Sep 19

I almost had someone up my bumper slowing down around a bend on the parkway (and narrowly missed the car in front who also slammed on the brakes) following this extreme rule.

I guess the cop makes a good witness for the accident next to them, if they don’t get injured in the process 🤦🏻‍♀️

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