New road rules in Australia that will do nothing but kill people, logic once again out the window!

At first glance the road rules introduced by South Australia and now NSW and Victoria are there to save lives but the reality is all they do is kill people. No-one is suggesting that emergency workers do not deserve protection on the road but the rules introduced to save them have done anything but and have costs lives, people licenses and created confusion where you have different laws in different states that have not been communicated properly to the drivers especially those from interstate.

This points again to the problems with Australia where each state whilst following the Australian Road Rules also introduce their own laws without any regard to other states nor looking at the experiences in other countries.

These are the road rules in question for each of the states that have introduced them and following them is the simple rule that all drivers across Australia should be using.

South Australia

Drivers are now required to travel at 25km/h when driving through an emergency service speed zone. This law came into effect on 1 September 2014.

The 25km/h Emergency Service Speed Zone applies on an area of road:

  • In the immediate vicinity of an emergency service vehicle that has stopped on the road and is displaying a flashing blue or red light; or
  • Between two sets of flashing blue or red lights that have been placed by an emergency worker at either end of a length of road on which an emergency vehicle has stopped.
  • It does not apply if you are driving on a road that is divided by a median strip and the emergency service speed zone is on the other side of the road beyond the median strip.

An emergency services vehicle includes:

  • Ambulance
  • Fire service vehicle (CFS, MFS or Federal Aviation Rescue)
  • State Emergency Services (SES) vehicle
  • Police.

Penalties are the same as speeding, if in a 80, 100 or 110kph zone and you can’t or don’t slow down you face immediate loss of license no matter what state you come from.

Victoria

From 1 July 2017 you must slow down to a speed that would enable you to stop safely when approaching and passing enforcement, emergency or escort vehicles that are stationary or moving slowly (less than 10km/h)*, and have either:

  • Red and blue flashing lights
  • Magenta (purple flashing lights)
  • An alarm sounding.

You must not exceed 40km/h when passing the vehicle and not increase your speed until a safe distance from the scene (more on this below).

The new road rule does not apply to vehicles on the opposite side of a divided road (separated by a median strip) from an emergency or enforcement vehicle scene.

  • A fire truck extinguishing roadside spot fires is an example of a slow moving emergency vehicle.

A ‘safe distance’ has not been defined in the road rule because every incident will be different.

The infringement penalty for breaching the new road rule is 1.75 penalty units ($272.05), with the maximum court penalty of 5 penalty units ($777.30). No demerit points apply.

NSW

The new rule from the 1st of September 2018 requires motorists to slow down to 40km/h when passing a stationary emergency vehicle displaying blue or red flashing lights.

The rule also requires motorists to give way to any person on foot in the immediate area of the emergency vehicle. Motorists should not increase their speed until they are a safe distance past the vehicle.

For everyone’s safety, motorists must slow down to 40km/h when passing stationary emergency vehicles displaying blue or red flashing lights
The rule applies to vehicles travelling in both directions, unless the road is divided by a median strip

Motorists who do not comply with the rule will face a $448 fine and three demerit points with the maximum court penalty of $2,200.

Western Australia

SLOMO (Slow Down, Move Over) law was introduced on the 2nd of March 2018.

The SLOMO law requires drivers to slow down to 40 km/h when approaching specific stationary emergency vehicles which are displaying flashing lights while attending an incident.

SLOMO applies to all emergency service vehicles and first response personnel who need to attend to roadside incidents very quickly. Their priority is the safety and survival of the person requiring assistance.

As well as emergency vehicles, SLOMO includes tow trucks, RAC roadside assistance patrol vehicles, and Main Roads Incident Response Vehicles, which assist with the removal of broken down vehicles and debris.

Vehicles travelling in oncoming traffic from the other direction will not be required to slow down.

However, if there is an incident that has occurred in the middle of the road or on a median strip for instance, traffic in both directions would be required to slow down if lanes in both directions are affected by an incident.

The penalty for this offence is three demerit points and $300.

Summary

Four states with four different laws that apply to different vehicles.

  • South Australia fines you for exceeding the 25kph speed limit and loss of license is easy, another state has a fine but no demerit points and two other states have different demerit points and fines.
  • Victoria requires you to slow for slow moving or stationary vehicles and the other three only for stationary.
  • West Australia requires you to move over where possible, the other three do not.
  • West Australia also doesn’t apply to traffic coming in the other direction without a median strip whereas the others do.
  • Each state applies the laws to different emergency vehicles and one includes roadside service.
  • Every state has different interpretations of how soon you can speed up again.

Problems with implementation

Victoria didn’t enter the correct offence code so all fines had to be withdrawn as three points were assigned to those fines when no points should apply. However police started issued summons to appear in court until the issue was resolved. [source]


It took just one day after Victoria’s new 40km/h speed limit when passing emergency vehicles was introduced before a big truck slammed into the rear of a small sedan writing it off. [source]


A NSW driver who was unaware of the 25km/h rule in South Australia was fined $1007, disqualified from driving for 6 months after driving past two police cars with their red and blue lights on in early 2018 before laws were introduced in NSW. The police were located 12m off the road and she passed them at a speed of 85km/h hour in a 110km/h zone. The driver was a female on her own travelling from Northern NSW to visit friends in Adelaide, she had driven for 49 years with no infringements and had to find a place to store her caravan and organise a lift to get back home. [source]


South Australian Police and RAA suggested an increase in speed to 40km/h”But SAPOL and the RAA said it had led to a potentially dangerous situation on stretches of high-speed road — the South-Eastern Freeway in particular.” The government however refuse to increase the speed. [source]


More ambiguity around the new laws with NSW Roads Minister, Melinda Pavey claiming that it’s up motorists how fast they slow down and to what speed. “In response to these concerns, NSW Roads Minister, Melinda Pavey, said it is up to motorists to assess whether it is safe to slow all the way down to 40km/h.

“To slam your breaks on to get down to 40 is dangerous and no one expects people to be driving in an unsafe manner,” she told ABC radio.

“We must be aware of what is behind us, appreciating and respecting that it takes a truck a lot longer to slow down.”” [source]


Cop injured under emergency speed rule [source]

What should we do?

Implement an Australian wide law similar to the United States move over laws which refer to requiring drivers to give a one lane buffer to stopped emergency vehicles. For example, while driving in the right lane, if the driver sees a stopped police car, the driver is required to move one lane over to the left to give enough buffer space to avoid any potential accidents.

Communicate changes to laws such as this by including an insert with vehicle registration papers as not everyone watches TV or reads News Papers to see advertising that is costly and ineffective. Distribute for free printed road rule refreshers at newsagencies, service stations and car servicing locations. Given that most people have to fill their car advertise road rule changes on the pumps or other parts of the service station.

The idea that it’s safe to have to brake heavily from 110km/h to 40km/h or 25km/h shows just how out of touch our lawmakers are.

Another system to use in conjunction with the United States move over laws is to look at how they deal with this in Germany with their unrestricted autobahns, police use a digital sign in the rear window to indicate to the driver to follow and they pull over in a safe location away from the road. Another easy solution to this problem that the Australian Governments will never consider just like the United States one above.

Simply put, Australian Governments will never introduce clear uniform laws across all the states.

Just when you thought that Queensland’s Container Refund Scheme was already complicated along come additional inane requirements!

The companies and organisations involved in the Container Refund Scheme (CRS) have their own rules on how containers are to be returned and with very few sites having Reverse Vending Machines they require you to register your details including bank account, bag up the containers, return them to a Container Refund Point and wait up to six weeks for a refund after they are manually counted.

If the manual count gives a substantially lower number like it has for many people there is no avenue to dispute this.

Each of these Container Refund Points have their own rules on the types of bags, some will provide you bags but often run out and if this is the case you have to travel to another CRP until you find one with bags that you can use. Most of the Container Refund Points will not let you use single use bags, instead you have to buy from the supermarket stronger multiple use bags and nearly all of them will not accept black bags for the safety of the sorting staff so this requires the purchase of more expensive clear bags.

Now one of the companies that requires you to use their own orange coloured bags Envirobank require you to put in exactly 50 containers, no more and no less or they will declare the bag as ineligible (see below for details). But it continues to get better, you cannot drop off 11 bags or more, if you have 501 containers or more you have to go to a depot and make a Statutory Deceleration which will require you to find a Justice of the Peace to witness the signature. All this for $50.10 or more! You couldn’t make this up!

June 2019 | See below for an update in March 2019 to Envirobanks inane requirements.

Checking their website there is no mention of the 50 container requirement on their How It Works page which shows a very simple process. Further to this they operate an ineligible bag policy that allows them to keep the containers and void your payment so if you put in 49 or 51 containers it’s goodbye refund!

I checked the Queensland Legislation on this and can find no reference to 500 containers however found that NSW requires a statutory declaration to be made that you purchased the containers in NSW so it’s unknown if they impose this requirement in Queensland or not.

Queensland Legislation does contain this however but it is not clear where and when this applies.

Division 3 Refund amounts for empty containers 20 Bulk quantity—Act, s99T New section 20 defines bulk quantity, for the purposes of providing a refund declaration to a container refund point operator, as at least 1,500 empty containers.

Container Refund Scheme Regulation 2018

Looking at their terms of service shows even more strange requirements including their right to keep your containers without paying you compensation if you include any ineligible containers or waste.

This is also confirmed on a popular forum.

One of the recycling scheme vendors in Queensland (Envirobank) just announced that they will only accept bags that have exactly 50 containers in it. If you have less, you forfeit the entire bag. I exclusively use 1.25L bottles and therefore it is impossible to get 50 into a bag. This is getting beyond ridiculous. I clearly won’t use them anymore but my incentive to use this scheme in general is further diminished.

Whirlpool Post

The even have instructions on how to use the bags, instead of creating a bag that is easy to use they have instead forced the onus onto those returning containers to figure out a solution.

Q. How do I close my orange bags properly?

A. It may seem like a silly question, but it’s more complicated than you think.

You know that the product your delivering is overly complex when you need such lengthy instructions on closing a bag and which make you have such lengthy terms and conditions and terms of service.

All this for a Container Refund Scheme that is truly a fantastic example of Idiocracy. The CRS could have required Reverse Vending Machines to be installed at Supermarkets so you can return your containers from the place you purchased them from when you go shopping. But why go simple, logical and cheap when you can do the opposite?

Update | Envirobank have changed their terms of service March 2019

Whilst they have updated a few areas even a more recent FAQ entry from April 2019 says that you should stick to 50 containers per bag.

April 2019 | Envirobank FAQ

You can mix your eligible containers in each bag, regardless of material type, but we do ask that you please stick to 50 containers per bag.

Updated Terms of Service | Envirobank

In order to use the Drop’n’Go Service, you must:(5.1.a) Before you drop-off Your Eligible Beverage Containers at a Drop’n’Go Location, ensure that You place a Maximum of 50 Eligible Beverage Containers inside an Envirobank orange collection bag with a QR code attached to the bag (Eligible Bag). At most Drop’n’Go Locations, the orange collection bag will have a QR code affixed to the bag. If You are dropping-off at a Drop’n’Go Location in NSW, You must affix a swing tag with a QR code to the drawstring of the orange collection bag.
(5.1.b) Either:
Scan the QR code on each Eligible Bag using the QR code scanner function of the Website (Your mobile device may request temporary permission for the Website to access the camera on Your mobile device in order to scan the QR code); or
Type the QR code in manually for each Eligible Bag,
while logged into Your Account on the Website. It is Your responsibility to ensure that each QR code has been accurately entered into Your Account on the Website before dropping off your Eligible Bag(s) at the Drop’n’Go Location.
(c) Only drop-off a maximum of 10 Eligible Bags in a single Drop’n’Go deposit. Deposits greater than 500 containers should be made at a depot and a Statutory Declaration completed, as a requirement of the Scheme.

Terms of Service | Envirobank

And they now have a FAQ that says you will be paid for every item contrary to the experience of others before they updated their terms of service.

What if my bag doesn’t contain 50 eligible containers?

Regardless of the number of containers in your bag, you’ll still be paid for every eligible container you deposit. (In accordance with the Act)

However it may take a little while longer for your containers to be processed and for you to receive your payment, compared to our ultra-popular 50 container express service.

Why is it better to pack your bags with 50 eligible containers? Find out here

(*Spoiler: it’s faster, hassle-free, and we give you imaginary gold stars every time you do it!)

Envirobank FAQ

Queensland’s Container Refund Scheme now requires lids to be removed for safety!

The stupidity of the Queensland Government Container Refund Scheme really knows no bounds, not content with the inefficiency of this complicated, expensive and cumbersome system when much simpler and cheaper options exist they have now require lids to be removed!

Two reasons are given, one is safety as the lids can apparently fly off at high speed and the other is that the plastic of the lid is different and they don’t recycle it. But why is this the problem of the person returning these bottles who are now faced with another decision. Transport bottles in their vehicle that may leak or spend time removing lids at the Container Refund Points and throw them into the landfill bin?

28th of November 2018 | Containers for Change Queensland

All other countries that offer refunds on containers accept them back with with the lids, the Reverse Vending Machines used throughout parts of Europe and other parts of the world have no problems with lids being fitted and many of these actually crush the bottle to reduce the storage space required in the store. Googling for injuries from “bottle tops” has found nothing so why are Queensland and some other parts of Australia so special that these pose a real and imminent danger? Over the top workplace heath and safety laws? Stupidity? Who really knows.

In fact removing the lid is not required and actually causes the lids to be sent to landfill when they can be recycled and the lids are in the top 5 of rubbish collected from beaches. The arguments that the various state governments, associations, groups and companies use in Australia as to why they can’t be recycled are nothing but misleading at best and shows a complete lack of understanding of the recycling industry.

Contains for Change Queensland even try and portray their practice of taking bottles without lids as good for the environment when as shown above lids are in the top 5 discarded items found in the sea.

8th of June 2019 | Containers for Change Queensland

The Containers for Change website has another message and not one of safety but rather that leaving lids on causes problems with transport and storage and that separating means a better recycling outcome!?!? Why are they unable to communicate the same message on Instagram as their website?

Containers for Change Frequently Asked Questions

A press release by Containers for Change has another message!

Containers for Change says reports of people failing to get a refund for leaving lids on containers or bottles is simply untrue.
The company has released a statement today to clarify any confusion about the bottle or can drop off program.
They do say lids need to be removed before processing for safety reasons and operators can ask customers to do this but under the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act they still must pay a refund for eligible containers whether the lid is on or off.
To find out more information on the recycling scheme visit the Containers for Change webpage at https://www.containersforchange.com.au/

17th of June 2019 | Containers for Change clarifies lid refund claims

This issue is further made more complicated with roadside recycling where nearly all councils want lids removed and only a few specify to leave it on. And combined with the sad state of roadside recycling in Australia means that most of the contents end up in landfill or another country.

There are many guides out there that are misleading and most give differing information. For example FYA claim that you should wash everything before it goes into the recycle bin and that you have to remove all lids and further they claim that removing them makes them easier to recycle!

The only solution to this issue is to have one government organisation responsible for all recycling in Australia so that a single consistent voice is heard and this organisation is further fully responsible for what happens downstream. At the moment we have the tail wagging the dog.

The Ring around the bottle

The Ring that is left on the bottle with the lid is removed is commonly in the industry called a tamper evident band or skirt, if the lid causes sorting issues why do all the states that require the lid to be removed allow you to leave this in place?

Some recycling companies and organisations even state that the ring and the lid are made from different plastics and this is why the ring is able to be left on the bottle.

Do I need to remove the plastic ring on the neck of the bottle as well?
No you don’t. The rings have no adverse effect on the recycling of the container and are actually made from the same type of plastic as the bottle itself, so therefore do not need to be removed.

RecyclersSA FAQ and Adelaide Hills Recycling Centre FAQ

The State of the States

Queensland | Lids to be removed but Ring OK
NSW | Lids and Ring OK
South Australia | Lids to be removed but Ring OK
Northern Territory |
Western Australia | Likely the same as Queensland

Queensland

Do I need to remove lids from containers before taking them to a container refund point?
Yes, lids should be removed from beverage containers before taking them to a container refund point. Removing the lids helps with the crushing of containers at processing facilities and provides benefits, ie.:

  • plastic tops are usually a different plastic from the bottle, so separating the plastics means a better recycling outcome due to less ‘contamination’
  • leaving tops on containers can cause problems with transport and storage.

Containers for Change Frequently Asked Questions

New South Wales

Do I need to remove the lid from my container?
No. Bottles with lids can go through RVMs without difficulty. The lids are a valuable resource and will be recycled too. We don’t want lids ending up as litter.

NSW Government FAQ FAQ FAQ

South Australia

Do I need to remove the lids from containers before taking them to the collection depot?

There is no legal requirement to remove the tops/lids from beverage containers before taking them to a collection depot, but it helps If you do because:

  • plastic tops are usually a different plastic than the bottle, separating the plastics is better for recycling
  • leaving tops on containers can cause problems with transport and storage.
  • you can put your tops with similar plastics in a separate container and ask your depot if they will accept these when you return your containers for refund.
  • removing the tops/lids from containers may save time at the depot.

Environmental Protection Agency FAQ

Northern Territory

Western Australia

Being run by the same organisation as Queensland so likely the same.

Queensland Feedback

From the Containers for Change Instagram post on this subject.

The lids off policy is not working. It is ‘encouraging’ littering near the refund collection points. This morning I picked up 242 plastic lids that were thrown in the surrounding roadside vegetation. This scheme was set up to address littering – it is obviously lids MUST be included in the scheme to decrease this littering. The full container must be recovered not just the ‘valuable/easy to recycle PET.

plasticfreeseas – Take off your container caps – Instagram

Hi @plasticfreeseas – we appreciate your help with this. Hi Tracey, lids and bottles are different types of plastic so need to be recycled separately. Lids can also cause safety issues, shooting off bottles at high speeds if they’re crushed. So if you’re returning your containers to a container refund point or recycling them through your Council bin, the lids need to be taken off. Our CRPs have bins at their sites if people forget to do this before arriving.

4changeqld – Take off your container caps – Instagram

@4changeqld Yes I know the plastics are different types. That is not an excuse not to recycle the whole container just the PET. I’m all for separating the lids for safety reasons but there is a responsibility for the scheme to deal with this part of the container not landfill them (or have them end up as small bits of litter). This is a flaw in the scheme fundamentals and should be addressed alongside the PET container. Offsetting this externality of business is unacceptable practice.

plasticfreeseas – Take off your container caps – Instagram

As usual all the hard questions that make sense are ignored such as the following.

So now everyone is asked to drive all the way to a depot to deliver bottles. What will that cost the environment? Kerbside recycling seems far more environmental on that measure.

peterstelmach – Take off your container caps – Instagram

And the following which is only responded to with a contact us message. These issues are quite common and they have made it clear on their website that they will not look into any discrepancies.

I have been saving my eligible bottles for 2 months now. I dropped them off in 6 filled garbage bags and just got my notice that I was paid $2.50. Please explain. I feel that I have been scammed and to think that my whole family have been on a recycling mission to do our best for the environment. We were going to invest the money into a recycling system to help us continue this program at our business. $2.50 might get us some plastic garbage bags to put future bottles in. However, we thought the aim was to REDUCE the use of plastics. Not create more once use wastage.

no_sixty8 – Take off your container caps – Instagram