How Victoria's new 40km/h speed limit when passing emergency vehicles rule works: Q&A

The new speed limit for Victorians when passing emergency vehicles has plenty of people confused. We’ve compiled information from VicRoads and RACV to help answer some common questions.

When do you have to slow down?

When you pass a stationary or slow-moving emergency or enforcement vehicle with flashing red, blue or magenta lights, or sounding an alarm.

You must slow down to a speed that would allow you to stop safely if necessary.

Source: RACV

Source: RACV

Drivers must not exceed 40km/h when going past the vehicle. Do not increase your speed until you are a safe distance away.

What does slow-moving mean?

Less than 10km/h. VicRoads uses a fire truck extinguishing roadside spot fires as an example of a slow-moving emergency vehicle.

What’s a ‘safe distance’ away?

There is no explicit definition. All drivers must be aware of the individual circumstances of a roadside incident and drive accordingly.

If a fire truck is stationed by the roadside with flashing lights, but firefighters are managing the fire further ahead, drivers should not increase their speed until they are fully past the crews.

However, if a vehicle has been intercepted and pulled over by Victoria Police, drivers will need to slow down and travel at 40km/h for a much shorter distance. 

What are the emergency or enforcement vehicles you have to slow down for?

They include:

  • Police vehicles 
  • Ambulance Victoria vehicles 
  • Metropolitan Fire Brigade vehicles
  • Country Fire Authority vehicles
  • Forest Fire Management Victoria vehicles 
  • State Emergency Service vehicles
  • VicRoads Transport Safety Service vehicles (magenta, purple flashing lights)
  • Enforcement vehicles (magenta, purple flashing lights) under the control of a state transport body including Fisheries and Taxi enforcement vehicles
  • Other emergency patient transport vehicles with red and blue flashing lights

What about yellow lights?

VicRoads has limited the rule to vehicles with red, blue or magenta flashing lights.

The rule does not apply to vehicles with any other coloured flashing lights, such as RACV vehicles or tow trucks.

Do you have to slow down on all roads?

Yes. The rule applies to all lanes of traffic on all roads, including freeways, with one exception.

If a road is divided by a median, the rule does not apply to those on the other side of the median. However, all lanes of traffic on the side of the road where the vehicle is located must slow down.

Source: RACV

Source: RACV

If the emergency or enforcement vehicle is in a service road, the rule applies to drivers on the main carriageway.

You must slow down if the emergency or enforcement vehicle is stopped or moving slowly on the road, pulled over onto the roadside or in an emergency lane.

What’s the fine?

If you break the rule, expect to pay.

The infringement penalty is 1.75 penalty units, or $272.05. The maximum court penalty of five penalty units, or $777.30. 

No demerit points will apply.

To recap, what do you do when you drive past an emergency vehicle with flashing red, blue or magenta lights or sounding an alarm?

  • Approach at a speed that allows the driver to stop, if necessary, before passing the vehicle, and give way to any emergency or enforcement worker on foot in the vicinity;
  • Not drive past or overtake the vehicle at a speed of more than 40km/h; and
  • Not increase speed until the driver is a sufficient distance past the vehicle to not cause danger to those workers in the immediate vicinity

To learn more, visit the VicRoads website or RACV.

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