Centre for Road Safety

A road rule has changed

The trial of a rule that required motorists to slow down to 40km/h when passing stationary emergency vehicles with flashing blue or red lights has been completed. A review of the trial, which included community feedback, has resulted in a change to the road rules.

This rule has been changed to improve the safety of emergency services personnel, tow truck operators and breakdown assistance providers working on the road, as well as the people they are helping. The changes also make it safer on higher speed roads where the time and distance required to reduce speed to 40km/h is the greatest. The changes to the rule commenced on 26 September 2019.

Watch our video or read a transcript.

The rule protects more vulnerable roadside workers

The rule has been expanded to apply to motorists when passing stationary tow trucks and breakdown assistance vehicles displaying flashing yellow lights, in addition to emergency vehicles displaying flashing blue or red lights.

There are changes to the requirements for motorists, depending on the speed limit of the road

On higher speed roads (with a speed limit of 90km/h or more), motorists are required to slow down safely to a speed that is reasonable for the circumstances. Motorists must also provide sufficient space between their vehicle and the stationary tow truck, breakdown assistance or emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights. This will include changing lanes on a multi-lane road if it is safe to do so.

On lower speed roads (with a speed limit of 80km/h or less), motorists will continue to be required to slow to 40km/h when passing stationary tow trucks, breakdown assistance or emergency vehicles displaying flashing lights.

The rule applies to help protect those who protect us

All motorists must also give way to any person on foot in the vicinity of a stationary tow truck, breakdown assistance or emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights. Motorists must not increase their speed until they are a sufficient distance past all the vehicles and people involved.

The rule does not apply when a stationary tow truck, breakdown assistance or emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights is on the opposite side of a divided road separated by a median strip.

You can find more information in our Frequently Asked Questions.

A summary of the 12-month trial can be found in our Evaluation of the trial of 40km/h speed limit around stationary emergency vehicles (PDF, 137Kb)

If you see an approaching emergency vehicle

When you hear a siren or see the flashing blue or red lights of an approaching emergency vehicle:

  • Give way to the emergency vehicle – if you are stopped do not move until it is safe to proceed, even if the traffic light is green. If you are moving, you must slow down and stop if necessary to avoid a collision with the emergency vehicle.
  • Move out of the way as soon as you can safely do so
  • Move over as much as you can to the left-hand side of the road or, if possible, move onto the road shoulder or breakdown lane. On multi-lane roads, try to move into the left lane to let the emergency vehicle pass
  • Drivers on both sides of the road should be prepared to move out of the path of emergency vehicles
  • Emergency vehicles with sirens sounding or lights flashing responding to urgent situations are not required to follow the rules, as long as it is safe for them to do so. Drivers should always be extra cautious when they see flashing lights or hear sirens.