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40km/h limit when passing emergency service vehicles – Do all lives matter?


On 1 September 2018 the NSW government enacted a law to require drivers to slow down to 40kph when passing a stationary emergency vehicle with its blue and red lights flashing. This appears to be a good thing on the surface and let’s face it, it is. But it does not go far enough. Why are those who rescue broken down or damaged cars not protected as well. Don’t NRMA or tow truck drivers need protection? Of course, they do.

Over recent years there have been tragedies where road side workers have been injured or killed in such incidents. They deserve to be protected and must be.

Anyone who has driven on NSW roads, particularly the multilane highways will know these changes have led to same dramatic behaviour. Part of the reason for the dramatic, and sometimes worrying braking behaviour, is the fact the legislation does not define “passing”, so no one knows when they have to drop to 40 kph or for how long. Do you need to be at 40 k’s 100m, 50m or 10m before or after the flashing lights? I’m sure discretion and experience will help; but in the meantime, driver’s need to be ever watchful of what is happening in front of them.

Written by John Sutton on September 14, 2018

John is partner of Armstrong Legal and head of the Criminal Law Division. The experience John possesses, being a high quality mix of defence and prosecution skills, together with his team at Armstrong Legal, mean you can be certain of accurate, dependable and practical advice on how your matter can dealt with. View John's profile


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