QLD Running Red Light for Emergency Services to Pass - Traffic Law?

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Nateqld

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30 December 2019
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When an Ambulance is coming up behind you on the road with its lights and/or siren on remember:

- Slow down and move into the left lane to give them a clear path down the centre, avoid stopping in the right lane. If it is not safe to do this, allow the ambulance to overtake you.

- If you are at an intersection, always give way to the ambulance even if you have the green light or arrow.

- Stay vigilant and avoid sudden braking. Remember that there may be a secondary emergency vehicle travelling close behind so check your mirrors before resuming your path.

- The law allows you to drive onto the wrong side of the road or move into a red light to clear a path for an emergency vehicle as long as it is safe to do so.
This was recently posted by QAS and is also similarly listed on the department transport website but the is no reference to legislation or regulation. I have had a look and all that I have found is that it is an offence to not get out of the emergency vehicle. RACQ also states the same but again no reference. Can anyone shed some light on which laws are relevant in traffic law?

Thanks
 

Atticus

Well-Known Member
6 February 2019
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My opinion... It's an offense to enter an intersection under a red light, even accidentally. If you can't safely make a clear route for an emergency vehicle displaying lights with siren sounding, then you can not put yours & others safety at risk to do so. There is no law I am aware of that puts the onus on a driver to break a law to make way for an emergency vehicle in such a situation.

In my experience, when an emergency vehicle comes across a cue of traffic at a red light, they turn off the siren until the light goes green.

I would most definitely not be relying on that as a defence to fight an infringement from a red light camera for entering an intersection under a red light.
 

Nateqld

Member
30 December 2019
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My opinion... It's an offence to enter an intersection under a red light, even accidentally... If you can't safely make a clear route for an emergency vehicle displaying lights with siren sounding, then you can not put yours & others safety at risk to do so... There is no law I am aware of that puts the onus onn a driver to break a law to make way for an emergency vehicle in such a situation...

In my experience, when an emergency vehicle comes across a cue of traffic at a red light, they turn off the siren until the light goes green..

I would most definitely not be relying on that as a defence to fight an infringement from a red light camera for entering an intersection under a red light

Thanks for your reply. You are correct about the turning off of the lights an sirens at red lights as to not push traffic into intersections when traffic is cued and there is no safe option. This is not a standard practice but a common practice by most paramedics in QLD. A big reason for this is that should a traffic accident occurs they then have to treat that accident and can not continue on to the emergency they were going to. There is a lot of thought goes into risk calculations such as this but that is a much longer conversion and not pertaining to this particular question

Here are some links. TMRs site is better as this is where QAS media has ripped it off from but still carries the same issue of no source.

QAS Facebook Ambulance Awareness on the Roads
QLD TMR
Emergency vehicles
 

Atticus

Well-Known Member
6 February 2019
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The heading of your post specifically mentions the running of a red light to allow passage.... If you are looking for legislation that states it's okay to do so under those circumstances I'm willing to bet money you will not find it....

The links you have provided say nothing about anybody having to do so either so I guess this is just a hypothetical on your part? Further to that if an official QAS site states moving out of the way when safe to do so includes a motorist moving into an intersection against a red light, I would suggest they are leaving themselves open to culpability should an accident occur

You will find only find legislation that allows EV drivers the right to do such things in circumstances that involve the use of lights & sirens when attending an emergency... The only way a motorist could defend moving against a red light, possibly, if there are police present directing them to do so...

Nevertheless, I will watch with interest anybody that can post a link to legislation that specifically allows a motorist to run a red light to allow passage for emergency vehicles in the absence of a police direction to do so...

Moving up onto a road verge to clear a path. not really a problem.... Running red lights, huge potential for problems.
 

Adam1user

Well-Known Member
5 January 2018
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This was recently posted by QAS and is also similar listed on the dept transport web site but the is no reference to legeslation or regulation. I have had a look and all that I have found is that it is an offence to not get out of the emergency vehicle. RACQ also state the same but again no reference. Can anyone shed some light on which laws are relevant
Thanks

I am not aware of the relevant laws or Act, but I did ask a NSW police officer about this issue as I heard it on the TV and wanted to confirm it, a person can provide way to emergency vehicle while in emergency service at traffic lights but it must be in a way not to increase the risk for that person and others.

So if a person is at a traffic light, can cross the red light to give way to an emergency vehicle in service if it does not increase the risk, if that person gets an infringement (by red light camera), the person can dispute it by review (or go to court) and it would be waived.

What you can do is ask a police officer, I am sure they would be able to direct you to the relevant law or act.
 

Scruff

Well-Known Member
25 July 2018
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NSW
What you're looking for is Road Rule 78.

In this scenario:
78(2) requires the driver to get out of the way of the emergency vehicle as soon as it's safe for the driver to enter the intersection; and
78(3) negates the red light infringement.

QLD Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Road Rules) Regulation 2009

78 Keeping clear of police and emergency vehicles

(1) A driver must not move into the path of an approaching police vehicle 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.

Maximum penalty—20 penalty units.

(2) If a driver is in the path of an approaching police vehicle 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.

Maximum penalty—20 penalty units.

(3) This section applies to the driver despite any other section of this regulation.
 

Nateqld

Member
30 December 2019
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What you're looking for is Road Rule 78.

In this scenario:
78(2) requires the driver to get out of the way of the emergency vehicle as soon as it's safe for the driver to enter the intersection; and
78(3) negates the red light infringement.

QLD Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Road Rules) Regulation 2009

78 Keeping clear of police and emergency vehicles

(1) A driver must not move into the path of an approaching police vehicle 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.

Maximum penalty—20 penalty units.

(2) If a driver is in the path of an approaching police vehicle 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.

Maximum penalty—20 penalty units.

(3) This section applies to the driver despite any other section of this regulation.
Thanks for your reply. I thought this was the section but I wanted to be sure. Just to clarify in section 78(3) it states “despite any other section”. It is fair to say section 78 takes priority over all other sections and this is where they are deriving “ The law allows you to drive onto the wrong side of the road or move into a red light“?
 

Scruff

Well-Known Member
25 July 2018
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Just to clarify in section 78(3) it states “despite any other section”. It is fair to say section 78 takes priority over all other sections and this is where they are deriving “ The law allows you to drive onto the wrong side of the road or move into a red light“?
That's correct to an extent. The word "despite" literally means "without being affected by" - but when dealing with 78(2), you must also take into account the required element regarding safety.

The wording of 78(3) means that rule 78 has "conditional" precedence over any other road rule. So if you have no choice but to break another rule in order to comply with rule 78(1) or 78(2), then 78(3) effectively negates the breach. The condition however, is that you must comply with 78 to the letter, particularly when it comes to the words "as soon as the driver can do so safely" in 78(2).

So the key is that you must be acting "safely" at all times during the event. If you do anything that causes a danger to yourself or another road user, such as causing an accident or a near accident, then you would be liable for either breaching 78(1) or 78(2), or some other offence under the road rules (such as in this scenario, running a red light). Things would obviously get a lot more serious if you do actually cause an accident.

Another thing to keep in mind is that 78(3) allows you to breach the rules only for the purpose of complying with 78(1) or 78(2). If for example, you move forward through a stop line at a red light, you don't "automatically" have the right to continue on through the intersection and go on your merry way. In other words, if it's safe to get out of the way and stop, then that's what you must do - but you must also give consideration to what will happen as the traffic lights go through their normal cycle. If it will not be safe to remain where you are once the lights change, then you should move on as soon as you can safely do so, which may or may not be when you first cross the stop line to get out of the way. So as you can see, it's not always as simple or as clear cut as it seems.

The intention of rule 78 is two fold:
1. to ensure that emergency vehicles are not impeded unnecessarily; and
2. to allow drivers to break other road rules when necessary in order to comply with #1.

As long as you're aware of everything around you and you make a safe call, 78(3) will always apply. But getting it wrong could be a disaster, which is why the safety element is mandated in the law itself at 78(2).

It's also interesting to note the use of the word "must" in 78(2) - which makes compliance mandatory. So technically, if you're sitting at a red light and an emergency vehicle comes up behind you with their light or siren on, then you are actually required by law to run the red light if it's safe to do so and if doing so is the only way you can let the emergency vehicle through. Weird huh?

This law is from the National Road Rules (NRR) and has been adopted by all states and territories, so it is now very consistent across the country, but with varying penalties. The one notable difference is Victoria, where the rule explicitly includes "enforcement" and "escort" vehicles. All states and territories include 78(3) with similar wording that results in the exact same intention as the NRR. Also, as escort accreditation becomes more standardized, some states have added an additional rule regarding escort vehicles (usually rule 79A).

The last thing to touch on is rule 79, which has also been adopted nation wide. As this question originated from QLD, I'll use the QLD wording again:

79 Giving way to police and emergency vehicles

(1) A driver must give way to a police vehicle 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.

Maximum penalty—20 penalty units.

(2) This section applies to the driver despite any other section that would otherwise require the driver of a police vehicle or emergency vehicle to give way to the driver.​

This one simply states that you must give way to emergency vehicles. Duh, right? It provides at 79(2) that emergency vehicles have right of way despite any rule that normally requires the emergency vehicle to give way to the driver. It kind of works like 78(3), only this time, for the emergency service vehicles themselves instead of other road users. But unlike 78(3), it's not a blanket override - it only has precedence over rules relating to right of way.

If you think about that for a moment, you'll realize there's something really odd here. Rule 78(3) gives everyday motorists the ability to break any road rule, whereas 79(2) only gives emergency services vehicles the ability to break rules related to right of way! Weird again huh? But it does all make sense.

As always, there are minor differences in wording across the country, so anyone reading this should carefully check the actual wording of rules 78, 79 and 79A (if it exists) in the Road Rules for their own state.
 

Nateqld

Member
30 December 2019
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Thanks Scraff
Much appreciated
I did notice
In (Part 19, section 306) it does give further exemptions from the act. Interesting thought it only says displaying a red flashing light
Please correct me if I’m wrong but is this what gives exemptions for speed limits and red lights ect.


306 Exemptions for drivers of emergency vehicles
A provision of this regulation does not apply to the driver of an emergency vehicle if—
(a) in the circumstances—
(i) the driver is taking reasonable care; and
(ii) it is reasonable that the provision should not apply; and
(b) if the vehicle is a motor vehicle that is moving—the vehicle is displaying a red flashing light or sounding an alarm
 

Scruff

Well-Known Member
25 July 2018
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In (Part 19, section 306) it does give further exemptions from the act. ...
Please correct me if I’m wrong but is this what gives exemptions for speed limits and red lights ect.
Yep. But just to clarify so we don't confuse anyone, these exemptions we're talking about only apply to the "road rules regulation" itself. They have no effect on any "act" or any other "regulation" - which is where offences live for things like excessive speeding, dangerous driving, etc.

Safety is paramount and that applies to emergency vehicles as well. If the driver of an emergency vehicle is negligent in any way, they can still get into a whole heap of trouble - which is exactly what happened here: Further prosecution over fatal RFS accident
Interesting thought it only says displaying a red flashing light
You're probably looking at an old version of the regulation. If you look it up on the official QLD legislation web site, you'll see that 306(b) was amended in 2018 to read "(b) the vehicle is moving—the vehicle is displaying a blue or red flashing light or sounding an alarm." - which brings QLD into line with all other states.
Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Road Rules) Regulation 2009

Dunno where QLD got their original wording from - the federal version has always said "blue or red" since it was adopted in 2006. Bit of a mystery that one. :confused: