The National Roads and Motorists' Association (NRMA) has lashed out at the upcoming trial forcing New South Wales drivers to do 40km/h past emergency service vehicles on the side of the road, describing the rules as "half-baked" and "short-sighted".
Announced earlier this week, the new rule will be trialled over a 12 month period starting on September 1. Drivers driving in both directions on undivided roads are impacted by the rules, and face a $448 fine and three demerit points if they don't comply.
Although it's designed to protect emergency workers, the NRMA says the trial doesn't go far enough. Speaking with CarAdvice, Peter Khoury head of media for the NRMA, said the rules "do nothing to protect the lives of the people it was meant to protect to begin with".
Khoury argued the rules need to match those of Western Australia, where the 40km/h 'slow down, move over' rules extend to tow truck drivers assisting in an accident, road operator incident response vehicles, and other bodies assisting in a breakdown, including the RAC.
The official NSW Government materials on the new rules says, after the 12 month trial, a review will look at "any further changes should be made to the rule and how its implementation could be improved... including whether it should apply to drivers when passing other vehicles which display flashing lights, such as tow trucks and motor breakdown service vehicles".
"The government has got this wrong, they need to start again," Khoury said at a press conference.
"They need to make sure this policy protects all those people who are working on the side of the road, and working to keep those people who need help, safe."
The NRMA held its press conference alongside Peter Frazer, head of the Sarah Group, which advocates for better protection for motorists broken down on the roadside, as part of a broader message about road safety.
“The new road rule will provide extra protection for all emergency workers and volunteers who respond to crashes and other incidents on our roads,” said Bernard Carlon, NSW centre for road safety executive director, when the trial was announced.
“When you see the blue or red flashing lights on an emergency vehicle stopped on the road, safely reduce your speed so that you are not exceeding 40km/h when you pass. Keep to 40km/h until you’ve safely passed all people and emergency vehicles."
Victoria and South Australia both have similar laws to the New South Wales trial in place already, forcing drivers to drop to 40km/h and 25km/h respectively past emergency services on the side of the road.
Although the Western Australian laws don't go quite as far as South Australia and its 25km/h marker on the speed side of things, they cover a wider range of vehicles stopped on the side of road.