By Lauren Ferrone
Published: Wednesday, January 8, 2020
Calls to review the speed limit when passing emergency service vehicles have been made after a spate of near misses and rear-end crashes in South Australia.
Crashes have occurred as motorists are forced to suddenly slow from high speeds to 25km/h in relatively short distances.
In some cases, motorists are speeding up to move out of the way faster. In fact, 219 offences for speeding in an emergency speed zone were recorded in 2018–19, generating more than $17,000 in fines.
In a bid to improve road safety, RAA is calling for a consistent national speed limit around emergency service vehicles with flashing blue and red lights.
What’s more, RAA believes speed restrictions should also be in place for motorists passing RAA patrol vans and tow trucks. There are currently no speed limits in place for these situations.
SA Police has expressed its own concern as motorists are currently required to decrease their speed quickly, sometimes from 110km/h to 25km/h in just metres.
Time for change
We’re calling for the speed limit around emergency services to increase from 25km/h to:
When was the lower speed limit introduced?
South Australia is the only state where a 25km/h speed limit applies around emergency service vehicles.
In 2000, South Australia was the first state to adopt a lowered speed limit of 40km/h for motorists passing emergency service vehicles with flashing red and blue lights.
The speed limit was lowered to 25km/h in 2014, after emergency services expressed concern that motorists weren’t slowing down enough when passing.
What’s legal and where?
According to RAA Senior Manager Safety and Infrastructure Charles Mountain, RAA has always supported a national approach to the road rule.
“We support a review of the current emergency services speed limit, particularly on high speed roads,” Mr Mountain says.
At the moment, SA remains out of step with the rest of Australia.
Victoria, NSW and WA have introduced a 40km/h speed limit when passing emergency service vehicles. In WA, it’s also against the law to travel over 40km/h around tow trucks and other breakdown recovery vehicles with flashing lights.
Queensland and Tasmania are still considering their options, but they’re likely to implement a 40km/h speed limit as well.
Our hope is that by increasing the speed limit from 25km/h to 40km/h around emergency service vehicles, safety will improve for all South Australian road users. It will also eliminate confusion for visiting interstate motorists.