29 February 2024

What to do (and not do) around a motorcade, explained

| James Coleman
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Police say too many drivers are inpatient. Photo: AFP.

So, you’re driving along when you come across what appears to be the arrival of Taylor Swift. A couple of black limousines in tight convoy, orbited by an array of police cars and motorbikes, blues and reds ablaze.

What you don’t do, at a time like this, is get in a huff and drive across the median strip to get around it.

Canberra is expecting more very important guests than usual this year, prompting a reminder from police on what motorists should and shouldn’t do when they come across a motorcade.

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“ACT Policing will be facilitating multiple high office holder visits to Canberra in 2024 and our motorcade officers would like all drivers to assist us to ensure minimum disruption and maximum safety for all road users,” a statement, issued this week, read.

For instance, Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos made his first official visit to Australia over 28 and 29 February, involving transport around the airport, city and Parliamentary Triangle. And there will be other visitors next week.

NSW Police with be out in force this weekend across Southern NSW. Photo: stock

Canberra is expecting a number of important international guests this month. Photo: iStock.

“We Canberrans are used to having guests of government visit on a semi-regular basis, but we know the Federal Government has a number of scheduled visitors this year which are more than we’d normally see,” an ACT Policing spokesperson told Region.

“So we wanted to sort of make people aware and remind them of what they’re expected to do.”

What is a motorcade?

“It can be a series of vehicles, sometimes 10 or 12 in total, essentially being escorted by police cars and motorbikes through the city so they can get to where they need to go,” the spokesperson said.

“There’ll always be a pilot car in front, and then other police vehicles doing rolling stoppages at intersections as the motorcade moves through.”

All the flashing lights are activated, so “you can’t miss them when they come through”.

traffic on Parkes Way

Crossing the median strip is a no-no. Photo: ACT Government.

Okay, so I drive up to an intersection while a motorcade is going through. What do I do?

“So say the motorcade is coming down Anzac Parade and has to go around the roundabout,” the spokesperson said.

“We stop the roundabout for a very short period, but some people don’t like being stopped. They’ll try to jump over the median strip and try to get around. Or they’ll perform an illegal U-turn.”

Police admit the delay can lead to frustration, but officers never stop the traffic for more than a couple of minutes in almost all cases.

“We do minimise it.”

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Instead, police list five directions for motorists who find themselves caught out by a motorcade.

  • Be aware of their surroundings at all times.
  • Obey the directions of police – especially at intersections
  • Be patient
  • Don’t drive over median strips or perform illegal U-turns
  • Recognise that the delay will be for a short period only as the motorcade moves through

Interrupting a funeral procession could also land you a fine. Photo: NSW Police.

ACT Policing also publishes details on expected motorcade activity on its X/Twitter account, even if they’re not specific “for security reasons”.

“The key thing is for people to be aware of motorcades, and if they do have appointments on the day, to plan accordingly,” the spokesperson added.

What about other convoys?

According to the ACT’s road rules, it’s an offence to “interfere with, or interrupt, the free passage of a funeral procession or any other lawful procession”, with a $205 fine to back it up.

And don’t think about flashing your high beams or honking your horn either. That could land you a total fine of $457 for both using your horn unnecessarily and dazzling oncoming drivers.

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It looked like there was about to be a motorcade on State Circle/Adelaide Avenue this morning.

A real pity they chose peak hour to block off roads.

I hope the federal government pays for ACT police to do this job, not sure why the ACT taxpayer should be paying for this service. Also the “not intreput a funeral procession” rule needs to be enforced more, it seems no one knows what a herse looks like, I got annoyed during my uncle’s funeral that following the herse everyone thought it was a free for all to cut into the procession to get to where they were going

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