Giving way or ‘right of way’ is arguably one of the most contested rules on Victorian roads, so we’ve done our best to clear up the confusion! When it comes down to it, giving way is about courtesy and common sense. If you’re stopped, you must remain stationary until it’s safe to proceed. If you’re moving but anticipate a potential hazard, you must slow down or stop to avoid collision. Here we explore some common examples.

Giving way to Emergency Vehicles

Ambulance with flashing lights.

Sometimes it can be difficult to hear alarms from a distance, so it’s important to keep an eye on your mirrors and know what’s happening around you. If you’re in the path of an emergency vehicle displaying flashing red or blue lights or sounding an alarm:

  • Move out of its path as soon as you can do so safely.
  • If you’re stopped, remain stationary until it’s safe to proceed. Otherwise slow down and stop if necessary to avoid a collision.
  • Consider the speed limits around emergency vehicles that may apply.

This rule applies despite any other rule that would otherwise require a driver of a police or emergency vehicle to give way to you.

For more information see rules 78,79 and 79A of the  Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2017.

What do you do when approaching an emergency vehicle?

The Victorian State Government has announced that from 1 July 2017, road users will need to slow down to 40km/h when driving past stationary or slow-moving emergency or enforcement vehicles with flashing red, blue or magenta lights, or sounding an alarm.

Emergency and enforcement vehicles include police, ambulance, fire services, State Emergency Service and heavy vehicle enforcement vehicles that have magenta flashing lights (such as VicRoads Transport Safety Service vehicles).

This rule does not apply on a road with a median strip, where the vehicle is on the other side of the median strip. The rule applies to the driver despite any other road rule.

Giving way to Buses

People boarding a bus at a bus stop

When driving in the left lane or line of traffic in a built-up area, you must give way to a bus displaying a 'Give way to buses' sign when it is stopped or moving slowly and indicating to join the traffic stream from the left.

Giving way to Pedestrians

Empty pedestrian crossing in a main street

Both drivers and pedestrians have a responsibility to give way. But at a glance, you should remember that:

  • Drivers need to give way to any pedestrians using a pedestrian or school crossing. This the law regardless of the presence of a crossing supervisor, though school crossings are only in operation when flags are displayed, or yellow lights are flashing.
  • At intersections (except roundabouts), you must give way to any pedestrians at or near the road you are turning into.
  • Drivers need to give way to pedestrians in a slip lane even if there’s no marked crossing
  • Drivers need to give way to pedestrians in Shared Zones (which are indicated by signs).
  • Pedestrians need to give way to vehicles at roundabouts.

For more information see rules 67 to 73 and 80 to 82 of the  Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2017.

VicRoads also provides a great summary of the key road rules regarding pedestrians.

The difference between a Stop and Give Way sign

If you see a Give Way sign, you need to slow down and give way as required by the rules.

If you see a Stop sign, you need to come to a complete stop, rather than just slow down.

Watch the VicRoads Giving Way at Intersections video

Visit these sections of our website for more on giving way:

The summaries RACV provide on Victorian road rules are based on the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2017. We make sure to reference the exact rule where possible. When reading, keep in mind that we’re providing general information, not legal advice. If you’re looking for specific questions on any legal matter, consult with a lawyer for help.