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An Essential Guide Around Emergency Vehicles in Australia

15 June 2023 AutoMarket, Tips & Advice

Have you ever driven quietly on the road only to get startled by the wailing sirens of a police car, fire truck or ambulance fast approaching? Well, you’re not the only one! Emergency vehicles, like ambulances and police patrol cars are so critical to saving lives that their involvement in an accident could be life threatening.

Knowing the rules and regulations around emergency vehicles won’t only keep you safe, but ensures you avoid hefty fines.

Below is a comprehensive guide for emergency vehicles in Australia. Careful ahead! 

So what should you do if an emergency vehicle is approaching you with lights and/or sirens on? 

It’s time to get out of the way of the emergency vehicle safely! Do the following:

  • Be aware of the things happening around you and listen to what's going on at all times.
  • Reduce your speed.
  • Move as far to the left of the road as possible to give the emergency vehicle a clear path down the right side. If you can't safely move to the left, stay put and let the emergency vehicle pass you.
  • If you are already in the left lane, make sure that the other drivers can move into your lane safely if needed.
  • Be sure to let everyone on the road, especially emergency vehicles, know what you plan to do. Signal lights are for this very purpose. Make use of them to indicate the direction you wish to move forward in.
  • Most importantly, do not break the law while giving way to an emergency vehicle. For example, do not exceed the speed limit to get out of their way.

How fast can I go when I pass an emergency vehicle?

  • In New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, and Tasmania, drivers must slow down to 40 km/h when approaching or passing emergency vehicles, like police cars, that are stopped or moving slowly and have their lights flashing or a siren going off.

However, New South Wales has an exception to this rule. 

  • Drivers must slow down to a reasonable speed on roads that have a speed limit of 90km/h or higher. 

On the other hand South Australia, has even stricter laws.

  • When passing police cars or other emergency vehicles that are stopped, drivers must slow down to 25 km/hr or less.

As a driver, it's your responsibility to know what the laws are in each state, because if you break their traffic laws, you will be fined.

Emergency Vehicles - ambulance driving fast

To avoid crashing into a police car, an ambulance, or a fire truck, make sure you follow the below pointers:

  • If you hear or see an emergency vehicle approaching, move your car immediately or stop quickly, or drive into the path of the emergency vehicle. 
  • Slow down or stop to inspect an accident. Also, be cautious of any emergency personnel or emergency vehicles that may be obstructing the road at the scene of the accident.
  • Don’t play music so loud that you can’t hear anything on the outside. This also includes putting headphones in both ears and ignoring a flashing light or siren.
  • Don’t tailgate the emergency vehicle! Leave sufficient space for it when you drive to avoid a crash if an ambulance, fire truck, or any other emergency vehicle happens to stop abruptly.



Knowing the rules around emergency vehicles will help keep yourself and others safe in an emergency. If you think before you act, you could save lives.

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