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Pressure grows for safer speeds at crash and breakdown scenes

The pressure is mounting for Victoria to join the other states in regulating to protect crash sites and breakdown workers.

The Victorian Legislative Assembly Economy and Infrastructure Parliamentary Committee backed a campaign by leading motorist body the RACV to reduce the speed limit when passing emergency roadside vehicles and tow trucks on Victorian roads.

Currently a law exits for emergency vehicles or red and blue lights to reduce the speed but not for ‘orange’ light vehicles

The South Australian Government was the latest state to introduce legislation to parliament to  reduce the speed limit when drivers pass all roadside breakdown and recovery vehicles and NSW has a mandated 40km/ limit for speeds up until 90km/h and a ‘reasonable’ speed to pass safely above that.

Victoria’s upper house Inquiry into the impact of road safety behaviours on vulnerable road users, has recommended that the Victorian Government “review the road rules in relation to the speed motorists should travel at when passing a tow truck or emergency roadside assistance vehicle with flashing lights.”

According to VicRoads a survey of 1600 emergency workers found almost one in five reported multiple near misses while eight per cent had had their vehicle struck by a passing vehicle. It also notes that 40km/h is the maximum speed at which pedestrians are likely to survive vehicle impact.

RACV General Manager Motoring Products, Jeff Ames, says the Victorian Government can no longer ignore calls for tow truck and emergency roadside assistance workers to be afforded the same protection as in other States.

“Every day, hundreds of our workers put themselves at risk of injury and death from fast-moving vehicles while helping over 820,000 Victorians annually,” Mr Ames said.

“Any driver who has been stranded at the side of the road knows what a dangerous and stressful situation that can be. I think Victorian drivers will be disappointed that the Victorian Government is not tacking action to protect our emergency roadside workers, and the people they help.”

“We welcome the Committee’s recommendation of a review but believe the Victorian Government should urgently introduce legislation to reduce the speed limit in Victoria, to protect worker safety.

“The South Australian Government has introduced legislation to Parliament that, if passed, will reduce the speed limit when drivers pass all roadside breakdown and recovery vehicles such as Royal Automobile Association of South Australia (RAA) patrol vans. This means that Victoria will be the only State, NT being the only territory, where emergency roadside assistance workers are not protected by reduced speed limits.

“RACV has been in discussions with the Victorian Government to introduce a 40 kilometre per hour speed limit when driving past or overtaking any incident response service.

“After 18 months of meetings with the offices of the Road Safety Minister, the Police Minister, and their departments we are yet to see a change to the road rules, so this recommendation is welcomed.”

The RACV has run a long campaign calling for the wider laws in Victoria to include tow trucks and roadside assistance vehicles and to accord with the rules in five other states.

The controversial emergency slow down laws introduced in Victoria in 2017 stipulate that drivers must slow to 40km/h when police, firefighters, SES or other “red’ and blue” lighted vehicles operating at an incident on the state’s roads or face fines of $272.

In NSW the law stipulates that when drivers are passing a stopped emergency vehicle with flashing blue or red lights: if the speed limit is 80km/h or less, they must slow down to 40km/h. if the speed limit is over 80km/h, they must slow down safely and move over.


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