VicRoads IRS Flashing Lights Trial

A new trial to investigate how the colour of flashing warning lights influences motorist behaviour around roadside incident response crews will begin on 23 October 2021.

With data showing drivers are putting crews at risk by failing to slow down when passing incidents on the roads, the trial aims to investigate whether the colour of flashing warning lights influences motorist behaviour to slow down around roadside incident response crews, and in turn, improve response crew safety. 

Research shows slowing down when passing roadside workers is critical to keep them safe, but despite 75 per cent of people being aware of the road rule requiring motorists to slow to 40km/h when passing emergency vehicles with flashing lights, only 39 per cent of vehicles comply on high-speed roads.

Under the Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 , An 18-month trial will test how warning light colours change driver behaviour and see the slow to 40km/h laws expanded to cover VicRoads Incident Response Service (IRS) vehicles.

From 23 October, VicRoads IRS vehicles will use new red and yellow flashing lights and road rule 79A has been amended to require motorists to slow to 40km/h when passing slow-moving or stationary IRS vehicles using flashing warning lights. The trial will commence with VicRoads IRS vehicles displaying red and yellow lights for a period 4-6 months, followed by red and blue lights and then yellow and white lights (current). The trial does not include other IRS operators beyond VicRoads.      

Monash University Accident Research Centre will measure driver behaviour of motorists passing roadside incidents via 18 CCTV cameras along the Monash Freeway (M1). 

The trial will provide Road Safety Victoria with evidence-based insights to guide potential future road rule policy that supports those who work on our roads. 

Frequently asked questions

Why is this trial needed?

The trial aims to improve safety for roadside incident crews who are often the first to arrive at crashes, breakdowns, and incidents on our freeways and face a greater risk if motorists don’t slow down when passing.

It will evaluate the road safety effectiveness of different coloured flashing warning lights and provide Road Safety Victoria with evidence-based insights to guide potential future road safety policy. 

What does the trial involve? 

The 18-month trial will see VicRoads Incident Response Service (IRS) vehicles testing new red and yellow, and red and blue flashing warning lights.

Monash University Accident Research Centre will measure driver behaviour of motorists passing roadside incidents via 18 CCTV cameras along the Monash Freeway (M1). Driver behaviour will be evaluated by measuring approaching and passing speed of vehicles passing incidents attended by VicRoads IRS vehicles.

VicRoads Incident Response vehicles operate on major metro arterial roads including the Monash, Eastern, Princes, South Gippsland, Calder Hume, Western and Tullamarine Freeways.

Why were these light colour combinations chosen? 

The community already understands they should approach red or yellow flashing lights with caution. The trial will help us understand if the combination of yellow and red, or red and blue (traditionally used by first responders) also improves driver behaviour when used on other vehicles, such as VicRoads IRS. 

What are the rules and light combinations in other states and territories? 

New South Wales law is 40km/h on roads less than 80km/h and a ‘safe and reasonable speed’ on those above 90km/h - after dropping the 40km/h requirement on high-speed roads in 2019 following a 12 month trial. IRS vehicles in New South Wales already use red and blue flashing lights. 

In Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and the ACT, drivers must slow to 40km/h when passing a stationary emergency vehicle with sirens and lights flashing. Victoria also includes emergency vehicles moving at less than 10km/h. Drivers in South Australia must slow to 25km/h. 

Will the trial run in regional Victoria? 

No, the trial applies to VicRoads Incident Response vehicles which operate on major metro arterial roads including the Monash, Eastern, Princes, South Gippsland, Calder Hume, Western and Tullamarine Freeways.

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