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New law means NSW drivers need to slow down for emergency services and accidents

New law means NSW drivers need to slow down for emergency services and accidents

NSW drivers will have to abide by a new road rule following a year-long trial of a rule that required motorists to slow down to 40km/h when passing stationary emergency vehicles with flashing lights.

Along with emergency services, drivers will need to slow to 40km/h when passing tow trucks and motorway recovery vehicles with their yellow lights flashing.

From September 26, the NSW road rule – Sarah’s Rule – means:

  • When passing emergency vehicles, tow trucks and motorway recovery vehicles on roads with speed limits of 80km/h or under, drivers need to slow down to 40km/h and allow enough space for assisting personnel.
  • When passing emergency vehicles, tow trucks and motorway recovery vehicles on roads with speed limits of 90km/h or over, drivers must slow down to a safe and reasonable speed and safely move over to allow enough space for assisting personnel.

The new law called Sarah’s Rule is named after Sarah Frazer.

In 2012, the 23-year-old pulled into the emergency breakdown lane after her car broke down on the Hume Highway. NRMA tow truck driver Geoff Clark came to her aid but sadly, while he was hooking up the car to the tow truck, a passing truck side-swiped the broken-down car killing both Sarah and Geoff.

Soon after, Sarah’s dad Peter Frazer establishedThe Safer Australian Roads and Highways (SARAH) Group.

SARAH encourages drivers to help make Australian roads a safer place by being more conscientious of emergency service workers when travelling past them to help reduce the number of preventable and foreseeable deaths and traumatic injuries.

Mr Frazer’s message to all drivers is ‘drive so others survive’.

“When you see flashing lights on the road ahead, commit to drive so others survive,” he said. “Slow down and give those who are vulnerable the space they need to be safe.”

According to research from NSW Roads and Maritime Services, 85 per cent of crashes involved roadside emergency services happened in 80km/h speed zones or below.

During the 12-month trial aimed at keeping emergency service workers safe while working by the roadside, more than 900 fines were issued to NSW drivers.

Minister for Roads Andrew Constance and Minister for Regional Roads Paul Toole said the decision to implement changes to NSW road rules aims to make the road safer for everyone and the intention of these changes helps to avoid unsafe practices like hard braking.

Mr Toole said these changes are about slowing down safely.

“If you are driving on roads 90km/h or over you will need to consider how close you are to the stationary vehicle and slow to a safer speed and give as much space to the vehicle as you can,” Mr Toole added.

NRMA roadside personnel know firsthand the very real danger that exists to them and the people they’re assisting when they’re called to a breakdown on the side of the road. The risk is multiplied if the road they’re working on is a high-speed one.

If drivers fail to slow down to 40km/h when they pass tow trucks, motorway recovery vehicles, police, ambulance and fire services with their flashing lights, they’ll be slapped with a $446 fine.

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