At least not in these days when everyone has a camera on their phone, as this photo shows.


The associated question was:

G’day Michael- saw this one earlier in the week outside a Court House- I assume the Police are attending court. Thought it might be a good discussion/blog.

I was curious though- when is it acceptable (in terms of law) for the Police to park in a no standing zone? This is a sweeping bend and as can be seen, very busy (and yes I was stopped when I took the photo!).

I assume they’re exempt to a degree but if it’s a potential safety issue, where do they stand? What happens if there’s an accident as a result of their parking?

Indeed the police and all the emergency services have some exemptions from the parking rules.  Rule 307 of the Australian Road Rules, reproduced as rule 307 of the Road Safety Road Rules 2009 (Vic) says:

A provision of Part 12 does not apply to the driver of a police vehicle, emergency vehicle, enforcement vehicle or escort vehicle if, in the circumstances—

(a)     the driver is taking reasonable care; and

(b)     it is reasonable that the provision should not apply.

Part 12 is headed “Restrictions on stopping and parking”.

Was it reasonable to stop there? That of course depends on why they stopped there.  If they stopped to go to court then that would seem hard to justify, saying ‘I had to go to court’ is unlikely to get your I off a parking ticket so why police?  If however they had to rush to court due to a duress alarm or they were escorting a prisoner and there was no-where closer to stop that may have been different.   We simply can’t know what they were don’t so we can’t address whether it was ‘reasonable’ that they should stop there.

Was the driver in this photo taking ‘reasonable care’?   Arguably not, perhaps if the car had to be stopped there the warning lights should be on.  But the car’s out of the traffic lane, the mere fact that it appears to be on the wrong side of the sign but otherwise not obstructing traffic may well show that the driver was taking reasonable care, particularly if you consider (which we can’t) what duties they were performing and what alternatives were open to them. It’s certainly safer than double parking in the traffic lane.

If there is an accident because of their parking, then of course issues would arise.  The first would be whether or not the parking exemption should apply and if it’s decided that it should not as the parking was not ‘taking reasonable car’ (as evidenced by the collision) they may get a parking ticket.    If there was damage or injury someone could, in the right circumstances, sue but it would be difficult.  It is always difficult to claim that a stationary vehicle is the cause of an accident because even if it shouldn’t have been there, other drivers have to be alert to obstacles on the road and drive in a way that will allow them stop or avoid them.  Those obstacles might be animals, fallen trees, wandering children, broken down cars etc   So if someone ran into the police car it would, I suggest, be hard to claim that it was the police driver’s fault.  But in the right circumstances anything is arguable.

See also Victorian police car stopped in a ‘no-stopping’ zone whilst officer eats lunch
(November 29, 2014).