Snr. Const Mark Whittaker (pictured) was struck by a motorist on the Pacific Hwy near Nambucca last year.
Snr. Const Mark Whittaker (pictured) was struck by a motorist on the Pacific Hwy near Nambucca last year.

Why controversial, ‘dangerous’ NSW road rule will change

A ROAD rule which became the subject of crash investigations after a local police officer was struck and injured by a motorist will be changed.

The rule, which requires motorists to slow down to 40km/h when passing stationary emergency vehicles with flashing lights, has been trialled in NSW for 12 months and has copped some considerable backlash since its inception.

It's drawn criticism for being hazardous, as motorists have been forced to slow down dramatically from speeds of up to 110km/h.

The law also only applies in NSW making interstate driver unaware of the need to lower their speeds.

In December last year, Traffic and Highway Patrol officer Senior Constable Mark Whittaker was hit by a car driven by an elderly Queensland woman during a routine stop on the Pacific Hwy near Nambucca Heads.

 

Mark Whittaker's police motorcycle prior to the accident.
Mark Whittaker's police motorcycle prior to the accident.

 

The 71-year-old had allegedly collided with the officer and his motorcycle before crashing into another car.

Senior Constable Whittaker was left with a broken leg.

Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy had visited the officer in hospital and told The Advocate at the time that the law was already being reviewed.

"The safety of our officers is the most important thing," he said.

From September 26, motorists will no longer need to slow down to 40km/h on roads with speed limits of 90km/h or more when passing stationary emergency vehicles.

Instead they will need to slow down safely and move over to give as much space as possible.

In zones of 80km/h or less, motorists will need to slow down to 40km/h.

The rule will also now be expanded to include stationary tow trucks and breakdown assistance vehicles with flashing lights.