Slow down for parked emergency vehicles with lights on

By Ben
Road Rules

As discussed recently on ABC Brisbane and Gold Coast with Kat Feeney. 

Program Link

The Rule:

When you encounter a parked emergency response vehicle displaying flashing lights, you are legally required to move over and slow down as soon as it is safe to do so.

This rule came into effect in Queensland on September 16th, 2022.

What qualifies as an "emergency vehicle"?

  • Vehicles with red and blue flashing lights: Queensland Police, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, Queensland Ambulance Service, State Emergency Service.
  • Vehicles with magenta flashing lights: Transport and Main Roads vehicles, National Heavy Vehicle Regulator compliance vehicles.
  • Vehicles with flashing yellow lights: Tow trucks, roadside assistance vehicles (e.g., RACQ).

What to do on a multi-lane road:

  • Leave one clear lane between your vehicle and the emergency response vehicle. This creates a crucial buffer zone for workers in high-risk environments.


  • It's unsafe or impossible to change lanes (e.g., due to oncoming traffic).
  • Roadworks obstruct lane changes.
  • You're following instructions from a police officer or other authorized official.
  • You're making a left or right turn.

What about single-lane roads or if you can't move over?

  • Move over as far as possible within your lane.
  • Slow down to a safe speed.
  • Only pass if there's enough space and it's absolutely safe. Consider pedestrians, emergency workers, braking distances, surrounding traffic, and weather conditions. Adjust your speed accordingly.

Penalties for non-compliance:

Ignoring these rules carries significant penalties due to the potential harm to emergency workers. Breaching Sections 78A(2) and 78A(4) of the Queensland Road Rules can result in 3 demerit points and a $464 fine.

Travelling out of QLD? Know the rules.

Rules may differ across states, so plan your journey and check the specific regulations in your area.


  • New South Wales: Slow down to 40 km/hr if the speed limit is below 80 km/hr, or slow down and pass safely if it's 90 km/hr or above.
  • South Australia: Emergency Service Speed Zones require slowing down to 25 km/hr.
  • Tasmania: Slow down to 40 km/hr if the speed limit is 80 km/hr or below, or slow down and move over if it's 90 km/hr or above.

By understanding and following these rules, we can all contribute to a safer environment for everyone on the road, especially those responding to emergencies. Let's keep them safe, keep ourselves safe, and ensure a smooth flow of traffic.

More info available at StreetSmarts.

Back to Top