Police & emergency vehicles

A summary of the key road rules about giving way to emergency vehicles.

If a Police or other emergency vehicle has its red or blue lights flashing or its siren on, you must:

  • get out of its way 
  • give way and stop if necessary, even if you have a green traffic light
You must also stop if twin red lights are flashing on a road, e.g. outside a fire or ambulance station. You can start driving again once the lights have stopped flashing and the road is clear of emergency or other vehicles.

In emergencies, Police and other emergency vehicles are not required to follow the road rules.

New road rule - Passing stopped enforcement, emergency and escort vehicles with flashing lights

From 1 July 2017 a new road rule will be introduced to improve safety for our emergency and enforcement workers.

What is the new rule? 

Motorists must slow down to a speed that would enable them to stop safely if necessary when approaching and passing enforcement, emergency or escort vehicles that are stationary or moving slowly (less than 10km/h)*, and have either:

You must not exceed 40km/h when passing the vehicle and not increase your speed until a safe distance from the scene.

* A fire truck extinguishing roadside spot fires is an example of a slow-moving emergency vehicle.

Why is this new rule being introduced?

Incidents on our roads place first responders and others involved at a high risk of being struck by passing vehicles or debris.

The new rule means improved safety for emergency and enforcement workers who are performing work on the road or roadside, as well as others who are present at the scene.

Does the new rule apply on all road types?

Yes, it applies to all roads, including freeways.

It doesn’t apply to vehicles on the other side of a divided carriageway from an emergency or enforcement vehicle scene.

What type of emergency or enforcement vehicles are covered by the new rule?

  • Police vehicles 
  • Ambulance Victoria vehicles 
  • Metropolitan Fire Brigade vehicles
  • Country Fire Authority vehicles 
  • State Emergency Service vehicles
  • VicRoads Transport Safety Service vehicles (magenta, purple flashing lights)

Why are other special purpose vehicles with different coloured lights not covered?

The new rule has been kept to emergency and enforcement vehicles to avoid confusion.

Limiting the rule to vehicles with blue and red, or magenta flashing lights makes it easier for motorists to understand and comply with the new rule’s requirements.

The rule is consistent with existing road rules 78 and 79 that require drivers to move out of the way of an emergency or enforcement vehicle with flashing lights or sounding an alarm.

The rule doesn’t apply to vehicles with yellow flashing lights as these lights are present on a wide range of vehicles performing diverse tasks.

Can I be fined for not obeying the new road rule?

Yes, you can be fined.

The infringement penalty for breaching the new road rule is 1.75 penalty units ($272.05), with the maximum court penalty of 5 penalty units ($777.30). 

No demerit points will apply.

Don’t motorists already slow down if they see an emergency vehicle ahead?

We know that most people already slow down when they see an emergency vehicle ahead with red and blue flashing lights, or their alarm sounding.

The new rule establishes a required standard for safe behaviour and further ensures emergency workers can get on with their important work without worrying about being struck by a passing vehicle or debris.

The rule has been designed to provide maximum safety benefits to emergency and enforcement workers while keeping it simple for the Victorian community to understand.

The new 40km/h limit is the maximum speed at which pedestrians are likely to survive vehicle impact.

How common are incidents involving emergency and enforcement vehicles, or workers?

Near misses are common. A recent survey of more than 1,600 emergency service and enforcement workers revealed that in the past three years: 

  • 17 per cent had a ‘near miss’ involving a passing vehicle on four or more occasions
  • 3 per cent had been injured while evading a passing vehicle 
  • 8 per cent had their vehicle struck by a passing vehicle
  • 23 per cent of those involved in an incident had consequential mental health issues

Is the new rule consistent with other safety speed restrictions?

Yes, the new rule is consistent with existing speed restrictions through:

  • school zones
  • work zones 
  • environments with vulnerable and unprotected road users

We have developed a video which tells you about giving way to emergency vehicles.

Penalties

If drivers are caught breaking these rules they may be given fines and demerit points.

The rules in detail

The key road rules and reference numbers regarding Police and other emergency vehicles are:

  • 66 Stopping for twin red lights (except at level crossings) 
  • 78 Keeping clear of police and emergency vehicles
  • 79 Giving way to police and emergency vehicles
  • 79A Approaching and passing stationary or slow-moving police vehicles, emergency vehicles, enforcement vehicles and escort vehicles
  • 305 Exemption for drivers of police vehicles
  • 306 Exemption for drivers of emergency vehicles

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