This question comes from an event first aider in NSW:
I attend many events which require me to respond in my vehicle ” a medical response vehicle”. I’m required to display warning lights. The hundred dollar question is what colour light? I spoke to the RTA people; I can’t use amber as I don’t fit their criterion. I can’t use red and Blue as I’m not an emergency vehicle. I can’t use red only because I’m not St John or blood bank; in fact sir you can’t use any lights at all sorry. What about cams requirement to respond I need warning lights? Can spare me a minute and clarify please.
There is little to clarify. The fact that CAMS (the Confederation of Australian Motor Sports) may want you to have warning lights is irrelevant. They are not the law maker. The rules are clear and are set out in Schedule 2 of the Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2007 (NSW). Rule 124(2) says, amongst other things, that a ‘vehicle must not display or be fitted with: (a) a light that flashes or rotates …’. There are of course exceptions. Rule 124(4) sets out the sort of vehicles that can be fitted with flashing lights. Rules 124(7) identifies the relevant colours.
Combining those two rules we see that the vehicles listed in column 1 can be fitted with a flashing light of the colour show in column 2.
|Column 1||Column 2|
|ambulances,||A blue or red light|
|police vehicles,||A blue or red light|
|fire fighting vehicles,||A blue or red light
Fire brigade emergency site command vehicle – A green light
|mines rescue or other rescue vehicles,||A vehicle used by an accredited rescue unit (within the meaning of the State Emergency and Rescue Management Act 1989 ) – A blue or red light
A mines rescue or other rescue vehicle – A red light
|Red Cross vehicles used for conveyance of blood for urgent transfusions,||A red light|
|public utility service vehicles,||A yellow light|
|tow-trucks,||A yellow light|
|motor breakdown service vehicles,||A yellow light|
|vehicles used for the delivery of milk that are required to stop at frequent intervals,||A yellow light|
|buses used solely or principally for the conveyance of children to or from school,||A yellow light|
|vehicles exceeding the length, width and height limits of this Schedule,||A yellow light|
|vehicles frequently used to transport loads that exceed the maximum length, width and height limits of this Schedule,||A yellow light|
|vehicles used to escort vehicles referred to in paragraph (k) or (l),||A yellow light|
|vehicles used by the Authority,||Traffic commander or Traffic Emergency patroller – A blue or red light.
Other vehicles used by the authority – A crimson light
|vehicles used by an employee of a council of a local government area for the purposes of enforcing excess weight limits legislation,||A crimson light|
|State Emergency Service vehicles,||A blue or red light|
|such other vehicles as are approved by the Authority.||An emergency vehicle within the meaning of the Road Rules 2014 (other than those identified above) – A red light|
The Roads and Maritime Services can give approval for any vehicle to display warning lights of any colour but we can’t identify what if any authorities have been granted.
It should be noted that these rules only apply to the extent that the vehicle is being used on a road or road related area (Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) ss 4 and 5). Without going into those definitions in detail one might infer that if the area in which the vehicle is operating is not ‘open to or used by the public’ (such as a designated race track, including roads that have been closed to allow a race to operate) then these rules won’t apply. Having said that, deciding whether any particular track was, or was not a ‘road’ would have to be determined in each case and I’m not saying that any particular track is, or is not, a ‘road’ for the purposes of these rules.
If my correspondent’s vehicles don’t fit any of the descriptions, above, then they can’t be fitted with or display flashing warning lights unless there is specific approval from RMS. The fact that CAMS want them to have warning lights may be a relevant consideration for the RMS when deciding to give permission but does not impact on the rules set out above.
If the vehicle is being used on a race track that is not a road or road related area then the rules do not apply but if a vehicle was fitted with warning lights, they would have to be removed before it was again driven on a public road.
Following further discussion, it’s worth putting the consequences in context. As explained above the rules say that ‘a vehicle must not display or be fitted with: (a) a light that flashes or rotates…’
This begs the question of what does ‘fitted’ mean. In land law, a thing permanently affixed to premises is a ‘fitting’. On another forum, I’ve seen it suggested that something is ‘fitted’ to a vehicle if it is connected to the vehicles power supply. Applying those concepts one could infer that where there is a specially designed vehicle where the warning lights are incorporated into the design and ‘hard wired’ into the vehicles power with an installed instrument panel, then that is ‘fitted’. A flashing light that operates on its own batteries and is held in place by a magnetic base is not ‘fitted’. In between are lights for example with a magnetic base or on a roof rack, but taking power from the 12v power outlet from the vehicle.
It is not clear what is meant when the rules say ‘a vehicle must not display … a light that flashes’. ‘Display’ must be something different to fitted, so a vehicle may ‘display’ a flashing light that is not ‘fitted’. One can infer then that having a light on or in the vehicle and switched on is to ‘display’ the light. If one had a light that operated with its own batteries, one could avoid that by simply putting the light on the road, rather than on the vehicle.
Whatever these terms mean, if a vehicle is displaying or has a flashing light ‘fitted’ then the vehicle is a ‘defective registrable vehicle’ as it does not comply with the standards set out in the regulations (Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) s 4). The consequence is that a police officer could issue a defect notice (s 76). It is not an offence to have those lights or to display them. It is only an offence to use to use a vehicle contrary to a defect notice (s 77) so an offence is only committed if a defect notice is issued and not complied with. If the light is displayed, but not fitted, one could avoid that by simply turning it off.