HOW TO KEEP SAFE AND AVOID A $448 FINE WHEN ON NSW ROADS – SLOW DOWN – MOVE OVER – AND GIVE MORE SPACE!!!!
It’s school holiday time and many of you will be lucky enough to be travelling around to various places to spend some quality time with your family over the next two weeks. Wherever you’re driving, it’s important that you keep up to date with the latest road rules in the state that you’re driving in.
Are you driving past an emergency vehicle, tow truck or breakdown assistance vehicle displaying flashing lights? Then you need to know about what the law requires of you!!!!
Whilst driving on New South Wales roads, it’s important that you are aware of a new road rule that has been on trial for a 12- month period but came into effect on a final basis on 26th of September 2019. It’s a rule, designed to keep people safe while being assisted or those assisting others on the side of the road for either medical reasons or vehicular breakdown or for some other emergency reason.
HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW……
IF YOU DRIVE PAST A STATIONARY EMERGENCY VEHICLE, TOW TRUCK OR BREAKDOWN ASSITANCE VEHICLE DISPLAYING FLASHING LIGHTS in NSW:
1. If you’re driving on a road with a speed limit of 90km/h or more and you come across certain types of vehicles parked or stopped on the side of the road you now are required at law to slow down to a safe speed that is “reasonable in the circumstances”. What this effectively means is that you will need to use your own discretion as to what would be a safe speed to slow down to when you’re driving in these speed zones.
2. If you’re travelling on a road which has a speed limit of 80km/h or less, then you need to slow down to 40km/h when passing the above types of vehicles.
3. You also need to provide sufficient space between these types of vehicles and your vehicles when driving past. If you’re in a multi-lane road, you are required to change lanes, where possible/if it is safe to do so – to keep the lane next to the stationary vehicle vacant.
4. If you are on a road with one lane in each direction, move over within your lane as far as reasonably possible away from the vehicle parked/stopped on the side of the road.
5. The rule requires drivers to not increase their speed until they are a sufficient distance from not only the stationary vehicle but also any people who are on the side of the road assisting or getting assistance.
6. If the stationary vehicle is on a median strip then the rule will apply to vehicles on both sides of the road.
If you break this rule, then you risk not only endangering the lives of both yourself, your passengers, other road users, as well as people on the side of the road being assisted or assisting, but also risk receiving a $448 fine, losing three demerit points and if the matter goes to court receiving a maximum court penalty of $2200.
The rule doesn’t apply when a stationary tow truck, breakdown assistance or emergency vehicle is on the opposite side of a road divided by a median strip.
There are similar rules in Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia to the NSW road rule discussed here.
This rule is now referred to as Sarah’s Rule in memory of Sarah Frazer and the ongoing work of Safer Australian Roads and Highways (SARAH) Group to improve safety conditions for road workers, as well as other road users. Sarah Frazer tragically lost her life in 2012 when she was struck on the roadside after her car broke down on the Hume Highway. The tow truck driver who had come to her assistance also tragically lost his life as well. Click on the link to learn more …. https://www.sarahgroup.org/sarahs-rule
Just so you are clear – Sarah’s Rule applies to the following types of vehicles when stationary and displaying flashing blue or red lights:
1. NSW Police Force vehicles;
2. Ambulance Service of NSW vehicles;
3. State Emergency Services vehicles;
4. Rural Fire Service vehicles;
5. Volunteer Rescue Association vehicles;
6. Transport Emergency Patrol vehicles; and
7. Traffic Commander vehicles.
Sarah’s Rule also applies to the following vehicles when stationary and displaying flashing yellow lights: –
1. Tow trucks; and
2. Breakdown assistance vehicles
Vehicles other than the ones listed above are not part of this kind of legislation. There are other types of vehicles you might see on the side of the road who also have flashing yellow lights. Generally, if they are road workers. there will be other signs erected, but it’s important to always be watchful of potential hazards on the side of the road and varying speed signs due to road works etc.
If you are driving on a road and see a vehicle on the side of the road that has yellow flashing lights, you should be alerted to the fact that these types of flashing lights are a warning to other drivers that the stationary vehicle is in a hazardous position. When there are breakdowns or motor vehicle accidents often these types of vehicles need to park in such a way that is hazardous in order to assist. As a responsible driver, you need to be alert to these kinds of situations.
KEEP A SAFE DISTANCE BETWEEN YOUR CAR AND THE CAR IN FRONT
After having travelled in the New South Wales roads during school holidays recently myself, I certainly noticed that many vehicles did not keep a safe distance behind my vehicle – this is very dangerous – especially when the speed limit is 110km/h. It’s vitally important that you keep at least two chevrons or 92) between you and the car in front of you when travelling at these kinds of speeds. If an emergency vehicle is stationary and on the side of the road and there is a need to slow down, if you’re too close behind the car in front then you simply won’t be able to slow down sufficiently to avoid hitting the car in front. If the weather is wet on the day that you are travelling, then take extra care!!! Check out this video if you are not sure what a safe distance is between your car and the car in front https://www.facebook.com/nswroadsafety/videos/315539919170670/?t=8
It’s important that you get safely to wherever you’re heading to.
If you’re not sure what the road rules are – then take the time to go onto the Internet and review the states road rules before you start driving on the roads with your family. Not being aware of each state’s road rules cannot only be dangerous but it can also be a very expensive exercise. Below are some links to the road rules for different jurisdictions in Australia.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND SAFE TRAVELS from HURLSTONE PARK LEGAL – YOUR LOCAL LAWYER !!!!