Slow Down, Move Over Laws: National & International Experiences

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned ReportOther


BACKGROUND Road Rule 79A (RR79A) in Victoria was introduced in Victoria in 2017 with the policy intent to provide emergency and enforcement workers conducting duties by the roadside with additional protection from passing vehicles. While a number of jurisdictions around the world have implemented variations of Slow Down, Move Over laws, there is limited published scientific literature relating to the effectiveness of, or compliance with, such laws either in Australia or internationally. Further, the experience of Australian jurisdictions in applying this law has not been systematically articulated. Thus, the objective of this project was to consult with Australian jurisdictions to describe and share experiences with RR79A.
Three methods were employed for this study:
1. Desktop review of Slow Down, Move Over laws in Australian and international jurisdictions
2. Structured stakeholder consultations with each state and territory in Australia
3. Stakeholder workshop, to share experiences and jointly explore potential ways of increasing driver compliance
Many jurisdictions around the world have adopted some type of Slow Down, Move Over law over the last two decades. Similarly, six states and territories in Australia have adopted some type of rule, initially with South Australia then followed by another five jurisdictions between 2017 and 2019. Most of the Australian jurisdictions with a rule in place applied a limit of 40 km/h when passing an emergency vehicle, except for South Australia (who applied a 25 km/h limit) and New South Wales (who removed the limit on roads above 80 km/h). The other parameters relating to the rule (e.g., vehicles covered, move over component, associated penalties etc.) varied among states.
Most states and territories were satisfied with how their rule was performing, or had made changes to reflect areas of concern. Informing the public about the rule had generally been achieved using mass media communication strategies, with some states adopting messaging
on emergency vehicles. Three states had performed (or are in the process of performing) some type of evaluation on the performance of their rule (Victoria, WA and NSW).
The states that had not implemented this rule (NT and Queensland) noted their emergency services had not expressed concern regarding their safety and thus there had been no real impetus for action. Of note, these states have very few high traffic volume, multi-lane freeways, which is generally where concerns from emergency service workers have been raised in other states.
States reported variable levels of compliance, although these were generally anecdotal reports or based on infringements issued rather than objective measurements of compliance. Further, anecdotal evidence from police and emergency service workers reported that perceived compliance was better on low speed roads compared to high speed roads. Although no serious secondary incidents were reported, concerns were raised about variable compliance on high speed roads creating additional risk. Distraction and tailgating were raised as contributing factors for variable compliance, as well as the conditions on high speed roads.
A number of potential strategies for improving driver compliance were identified in the workshop, including: mass media campaigns for driver awareness; education to improve knowledge and understanding; emerging technologies for advance warning; vehicle specific solutions such as lighting, sirens and markings; and increased enforcement. While single measures are unlikely to significantly impact driver compliance, a combination of solutions that aim to improve driver understanding and elevate the importance of slowing down when passing emergency vehicles is critical. Of particular importance is monitoring new solutions than provide advance warning wherever possible.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMelbourne Vic Australia
Commissioning bodyRoads Corporation (trading as VicRoads) (Victoria)
Number of pages46
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Emergency services
  • Safety
  • Road Rules

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