If you see an emergency vehicle on the roadside with its lights on flash, slow to 40km/h or risk a hefty fine. That's the message from Victoria Police, which this week is launching a crackdown on its controversial 'Slow Down, Move Over' laws.
Fines for failing to comply start at $272 in Victoria, with no demerit points. The law was introduced in July 2017 for Victorians, before similar rules were minted in September 2018 for NSW drivers.
According to reports from the Herald Sun, 134 people were fined for infringing the rules in the six months after they were introduced, which jumped to 548 in 2018.
Despite doubling down on the rules, assistant commissioner for roads Stephen Leane conceded they create fresh dangers, with some drivers braking hard to hit 40km/h from highway speeds.
“In many cases, [drivers] are reacting slower than what we would like. We need to be careful in and around that as it can create an incident as well,” he said. “When you see lights, we are asking people to progressively slow down.”
Adding to the uncertainty is the fact you're allowed to speed up when a "safe enough distance" from emergency services, with no concrete rule or distance provided.
Despite these issues, road safety advocates in some states have suggested the rules don't go far enough. In New South Wales, the NRMA said the laws are "half-baked" and "short-sighted".
The road toll in Victoria currently sits at 111, up 50% on the same time last year.