New 40km/h road rule in effect from today across NSW. Picture: NSW Police Force
New 40km/h road rule in effect from today across NSW. Picture: NSW Police Force

New controversial road rule comes into effect

There is a new road rule now in effect across NSW and anyone caught breaking it can cop a massive $448 fine and three demerit points.

Under the new rule, drivers will be required to slow down when passing stationary emergency vehicles, tow trucks and breakdown assistance vehicles displaying flashing lights.

Motorists will have to slow down to 40km/h when travelling on roads with a speed limit of 80km/h or less.

On roads that have a speed limit of 90km/h or more drivers are required to slow down safely to a speed that is "reasonable for the circumstances".

The law also requires motorists to provide sufficient space between their vehicles and the vehicle displaying flashing lights.

The rule has been changed to include tow trucks and breakdown assistance vehicles. Picture: NSW Police Force
The rule has been changed to include tow trucks and breakdown assistance vehicles. Picture: NSW Police Force

Motorists travelling on a multi-lane road must change lanes to keep the lane next to the stationary vehicle vacant if it is safe to do so.

A 12-month trial of the law, which started in September 2018, saw drivers having to slow down to 40km/h around emergency vehicles no matter what speed they were travelling at.

This raised major concerns from drivers about the risks associated with slowing down so quickly on a high speed road.

President of the Police Association of NSW, Tony King, agreed with the public that there were serious issues with the rule that needed to be addressed.

"Police have had some serious concerns about the 40km/h zone which was introduced by the NSW Government," he said in February.

While Mr King agreed motorists needed to slow around emergency vehicles, "the restriction of the 40km/h limit has caused some issues, particularly on major arterial roads".

 

Drivers caught ignoring the rule can cop a $448 fine and three demerit points.
Drivers caught ignoring the rule can cop a $448 fine and three demerit points.

 

During the trial, tow trucks and breakdown assistance vehicles weren't included in the rule, with motorists only required to slow down around emergency vehicles.

There were multiple complaints about this issue, so the government extended the law to include these types of vehicles as well.

Bernard Carlon, Executive Director of the Centre for Road Safety said the changes to the rule aim to help keep all road users safe.

"The changes to the rule are the result of feedback from the public and stakeholders during the initial trial," Mr Carlon said.

"These changes enhance safety on higher speed roads where greater time and distance is needed to safely reduce speed.

"We want every road user to feel safe on NSW roads - including those working on the roadside, the people they are helping and those who are slowing down as they pass these stopped vehicles,"

Drivers caught not following the rule can cop a $448 fine and three demerit points, along with a maximum court penalty of $2200.

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

Similar rules are in place in Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia.


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