Is it illegal to not give way to emergency vehicles?

Is it illegal to not give way to emergency vehicles?
Is it illegal to not give way to emergency vehicles?

Most drivers know that when there is a police vehicle, ambulance, fire engine or any other emergency vehicle trying to get somewhere, it’s ideal to do your best and move aside.

Emergency vehicles have right of wayYou must allow them to pass when safe to do soFailure to move, or moving in front of emergency vehicles, can result in a fine and/or demerits

Sometimes, it’s not possible – traffic jams can mean you’re stuck and you can’t allow an emergency vehicle to get past.

That’s totally understandable. If there are sirens blaring and blue and red lights flashing, but you can’t physically move, it isn’t expected that you’d intentionally barge your car into another person’s vehicle in order to allow them to pass.

But if you happened to block the path of an emergency vehicle where you could have otherwise safely given way, then you could get yourself into big trouble.

Emergency vehicles have camera systems and they will be able to find out who you are after the fact, so don’t go thinking that you won’t get in trouble if it doesn’t happen straight away.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the potential ramifications of failing to give way to an emergency vehicle in Australia.

The nation’s states and territories follow the model Road Rules 2014 for this, with “Rule 78 Keeping clear of police and emergency vehicles” being the relied upon standard. There are two parts to the rule:

“A driver must not move into the path of an approaching police or emergency vehicle that is displaying a flashing blue or red light (whether or not it is also displaying other lights) or sounding an alarm. 

“If a driver is in the path of an approaching police or emergency vehicle that is displaying a flashing blue or red light (whether or not it is also displaying other lights) or sounding an alarm, the driver must move out of the path of the vehicle as soon as the driver can do so safely.”

And here’s what it could cost you, if you’re found to contravene either of these rules.

NSW: Move into path of police or emergency vehicle – $464 fine, three demerits; Not move out of path of police/emergency vehicle – $464 fine, three demerits.

Victoria: Fail to keep clear or give way to police vehicle or emergency vehicle – $165 fine, one demerit.

Queensland: Failing to give way to emergency vehicle displaying flashing blue or red lights or sounding an alarm – $335 fine, three demerits; Moving into path of moving emergency vehicle displaying flashing blue or red lights or sounding an alarm – $335 fine, three demerits.

Western Australia: Failure to give way to an emergency vehicle – $400 fine, four demerits.

South Australia: Fail to move out of path of police or emergency vehicle – $499 fine; three demerits. 

ACT: Move into path of police/emergency vehicle – $352 fine, three demerits; Not move out of path of police/emergency vehicle – $352 fine, three demerits.

Tasmania: Move into path of police/emergency vehicle displaying flashing red/blue light or sounding alarm – $226 fine, three demerits; Fail to move out of path of police/emergency vehicle displaying flashing red/blue light or sounding alarm – $226 fine, three demerits.

Northern Territory: Fail to give way to emergency vehicle – $100 fine.

So, move if you can – and if you can’t straight away, move when you can. 

Not intended as legal advice. Check with the relevant roads authority in your state or territory.

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