This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Official Information request 'Police Driver Programme'.
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Urgent Duty Driving
Policy statement and principles
Operating a Police vehicle, especially when engaged in urgent duty driving, including 
when driving above the speed limit or the natural flow of traffic and at intersections, 
can increase the exposure to risk of injury to Police employees and the public.
Urgent duty driving must be able to be justified in response to the threat, and wherever 
possible, lights and sirens are continually used unless a tactical response is undertaken.
Ensuring a continuous risk assessment (TENR – Threat – Exposure-Necessity-
Response) while operating a Police vehicle, will assist in minimising risks to all.
Prioritising safety by driving with a high standard of care to minimise exposure to risk 
is critical to reducing road trauma, and ensuring trust and confidence in Police vehicle 
Police ensure this by:
• prioritising Police and public safety when driving,
• enforcement officers prioritising safety by driving with a high standard of care,
• recognising that no duty is so urgent that it requires the public or Police to be 
placed at unjustified risk,
• enforcement officers being aware that they are individually legally responsible for 
their actions,
• using the Police risk assessment tool TENR, when deciding whether to commence 
and continue urgent duty driving
• continuously using lights and sirens, where fitted, unless a tactical approach is 

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Urgent duty driving increases risks to public and Police safety and is often subject to 
considerable scrutiny. Enforcement officers must prioritise safety by driving with a 
high standard of care, with appropriate use of warning devices, in a manner 
appropriate to the situation, and in accordance with the Land Transport (Road User) 
Rule 2004 and the Land Transport Act 1998. Enforcement officers must be able to 
justify their manner of driving taking into account all of the circumstances that existed 
at the time.
Overriding principles
The overarching principle is that public and police employeesafety takes precedence 
over the necessity to undertake urgent duty driving.
Additional principles are:
• public and police employee safety must be prioritised;
• urgent duty driving must be conducted in the safest possible manner;
• enforcement officers must drive at a speed and manner appropriate to the 
• enforcement officers are individually legally responsible for their actions;
• enforcement officers will use a risk based assessment (e.g. TENR); and
• category A vehicles are preferred for urgent duty driving as they are more visible.
Note: Where it is necessary to use a vehicle other than a category A, enforcement 
officers must factor this into their risk assessment. No additional or different 
legal exemptions exist. The driver must be able to justify their actions based on all 
of the circumstances that existed at that time.
No duty is so urgent that it requires the public or Police to be placed at unjustified risk.
Note: Enforcement officers must assess the risk of carrying non-constabulary 
passengers before undertaking urgent duty driving.
What is urgent duty driving?
Urgent duty driving is when an enforcement officer on duty is driving above the speed 
limit or the natural flow of traffic, and may not be complying with certain traffic rules 
and is:
either. . .
and. . .

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either. . .
and. . .
• responding to a critical incident
are relying on the defences under the 
• gathering evidence of an alleged 
Land Transport (Road User) Rule 
2004 (RUR) and the Land Transport 
• apprehending an offender for an 
Act 1998 (LTA ()) for not complying 
alleged traffic or criminal offence
with certain traffic rules and 
• apprehending a fleeing driver
regulations which would prevent the 
• providing security to, and facilitating 
execution of that duty.
the movement of, an official 
motorcade as part of an operation (as 
established in the relevant Operation 
Orders)engaged in activities approved 
by the Commissioner in writing.
What is a 'critical incident'?
A 'critical incident' includes situations where:
• force or the threat of force is involved
• any person faces the risk of serious harm
• Police are responding to people in the act of committing a crime.
Factors to consider
Drivers must take all of the circumstances into account including the following factors 
when deciding to commence or continue urgent duty driving and to determine the 
appropriate speed and driving manner:
• time of the incident (is it in progress?)
• nature and seriousness of the incident
• proximity of incident
• proximity of other units to the incident
• environment, e.g. weather, traffic volume, road type, speed limit and pedestrians 
• driver classification, vehicle classification and vehicle passengers
• whether warning devices are activated or a 'tactical approach' is being used
• vehicle  type.

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Situations may change, meaning drivers and enforcement officers who are passengers 
must constantly re-assess the situation considering all of the factors, including those 
above, in line with TENR. The manner and speed of driving must be adjusted 
accordingly (e.g. environmental conditions, incident seriousness or road speed limit).
Warning devices
Police must use red and blue flashing lights and siren at all times (continuously) while 
undertaking urgent duty driving unless a 'tactical approach' is used.
Police must not rely on road users to take evasive action when warning lights and 
sirens are activated - they do not guarantee safety.
What is a 'tactical approach'?
A 'tactical approach' refers to urgent duty driving without the activation of either 
warning lights and/or sirens. Undertaking urgent duty driving without the activation of 
warning lights and/or sirens increases the road safety risks to public and Police. 
Therefore, using a tactical approach is the exception rather than the rule. Vehicle speed 
and manner of driving must reflect and take into account the increased risks resulting 
from the absence of warning devices.
A tactical approach can involve:
• adjusting vehicle speed
• turning off or not activating the siren
• turning off or not activating the warning lights.
Using a tactical approach can be an advantage, allowing you to bring a patrol car closer 
to an offender/incident without alerting anyone of your arrival. This can also provide 
you with greater opportunities to gather evidence. Lights, sirens, and engine noise may 
alert an offender or aggravate a situation.
For example:
• approaching a scene of a serious crime in progress, or
• attending a report of a suicidal person, or
• obtaining evidence of a speeding offence, where the offender's driving is not 
dangerous and the risk of not using the warning devices is judged as low.
Any tactical approach must be proportional to the incident, in line with the TENR
assessment, and be able to be executed safely.
A tactical approach, without lights or sirens whilst exceeding the speed limit or natural 
flow of traffic, can only be used in justifiable circumstances.

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• You will need to justify your decision to use a tactical approach should there be 
any subsequent investigation.
• If neither lights nor sirens are used, then the defences for proceeding against 
traffic signals or through intersections do not apply. See 'Legal provisions -
Note: A tactical approach cannot be used once a fleeing driver incident is 
initiated. Any deactivation of warning devices must be in line with the fleeing 
driver abandonment procedure.
Legal provisions - defences
Police involved in urgent duty driving must familiarise themselves and comply with the 
law. There is no blanket legal protection when involved in these duties, and Police may 
need to justify their actions in civil and criminal proceedings.
Note that some of the provisions cited below require, in order for the exemption to 
apply, warning devices to be activated. If warning devices are required but not 
activated, or not fitted to the vehicle to use, the exemption will not be available.
The Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 (RUR) and the Land Transport Act 1998
(LTA) provide for defences, subject to these conditions.
You may have a 
defence for …
if …
any act or omission in 
the act or omission was necessary in executing your duty.
breach of the RUR
Note: Where a specific exemption applies (eg proceeding 
(under RUR clause 1.8)
against a stop sign), that exemption and associated 
conditions override this section.

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You may have a 
defence for …
if …
exceeding speed limits
you are either:
(under RUR clauses 5.1
• engaged in urgent duty and to comply with the speed 
(3)(a), (b) and (c))
limit would be likely to prevent the duty being 
• driving  an  emergency  vehicle in an emergency and 
operating a red beacon or a siren, or both (see 
warning devices)
• your vehicle is on a road with a speed limit of 60 
km/h or more and you are transporting an Executive 
Council member (all Ministers of the Crown) on 
urgent public business. (This also applies when you 
are transporting another person authorised by the 
Minister on urgent public business).
Proceeding against a 
you are:
stop sign, give way sign 
• driving  an  emergency  vehicle displaying blue or red 
or traffic signal
beacon (or both) or sounding a siren
(under RUR clause 
• not exceeding 20 km/h (see warning devices)
• taking due care to avoid collisions with pedestrians 
and other traffic.
Note: All of these conditions apply.

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You may have a 
defence for …
if …
Proceeding through an 
you are:
• driving  an  emergency  vehicle displaying blue or red 
(under clause 11.19 of 
beacon (or both) or sounding a siren
the RUR)
• not exceeding 20 km/h (see warning devices)
• taking due care to avoid a collision with other traffic.
Note: All of these conditions apply.
The mandatory 28-day 
the vehicle is conveying Police performing an urgent duty, 
licence suspension for 
and to comply with the speed limit is likely to prevent or 
exceeding the speed 
hinder that duty being executed.
limit by more than 
(under section 95(6)(b) 
Breaches of statute
Note that defences for breaches of the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 are 
unlikely to be a defence for contravention of a statute. This particularly applies in 
respect of excessive speed giving rise to a dangerous speed charge.
This table sets out the responsibilities of different roles when Police engage in urgent 
duty driving.

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• Complies with the law and drives in a 
manner that prioritises public and 
Police safety.
Enforcement officer who is a 
• Advises the driver about the route, 
situational factors and risks.
• Operates the radio if communications 
are required.
Field supervisor
• Manages Police performance relating to 
driving behaviour.
• Identifies and manages health and 
safety risks to those staff.
• Immediately reports policy breaches to 
their superior.
• Investigates and reports crashes 
involving a Police vehicle.
• Sureplan notified of Police Vehicle 
• monitoring of health and safety 
• crash files progressed to the District 
Road Policing Manager and District 
Police Professional Conduct Manager 
for their review.

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Controlling officer
• Ensures units are directed to the 
incident as appropriate.
Note: The controlling officer is a 
shift supervisor (office of constable) 
at the appropriate Communications 
Related instructions
This chapter must be read in association with these Police Manual chapters:
• 'Fleeing  driver  policy'
• 'Police vehicle management'
• 'Professional Police Driver Programme'
• 'TENR-Operational threat assessment'.
More information
For more information contact the Road Policing Support Operations Manager at 
PNHQ ().