15 May 2024

Committee backs RACV call to cut speed limit around emergency roadside vehicles

| James Day
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RACV roadside assistance worker getting something out of his van

The RACV says Victorian drivers will be disappointed if their government does not take action to protect emergency roadside workers and the people they help. Photo: RACV.

An inquiry into the impact of road safety behaviours on vulnerable road users has called on the Victorian Government to review the speed limit for motorists passing emergency roadside vehicles and tow trucks.

The recommendation by the Victorian Legislative Assembly Economy and Infrastructure Parliamentary Committee would include RACV patrol vans and tow trucks. The RACV has long been calling for the state to afford its workers the same protection that exists in other states.

RACV general manager of motoring products Jeff Ames said that every day, hundreds of the organisation’s workers put themselves at risk of injury and death from fast-moving vehicles.

“RACV has been in discussions with the Victorian Government to introduce a 40 km/h speed limit when driving past or overtaking any incident response service,” Mr Ames said.

“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.”

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Mr Ames said any driver who had been stranded at the side of the road knew what a dangerous and stressful situation it could be. However, legislation such as that recently introduced in South Australia would go a long way towards curbing the risk involved.

Now the only state and territory where emergency roadside assistance workers are not protected by reduced speed limits are Victoria and the NT, respectively.

Last month, South Australia passed legislation requiring drivers to slow to 25 km/h as they pass roadside breakdown and recovery vehicles, such as Royal Automobile Association of South Australia (RAA) patrol vans. The new rule is part of an extension of existing legislation that protects frontline emergency services workers.

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The South Australian government said RAA workers attended more than 950 callouts a day in the state, with an increasing number on high-speed arterial routes where workers, drivers and passengers waiting at the roadside were particularly vulnerable.

It said the RAA had reported 20 safety incidents caused by cars driving past breakdowns without due care in the past four years, including five incidents in which service vans were hit by a car or motorcycle, and seven where traffic cones were knocked over or dragged along the road by passing vehicles.

Drivers who fail to slow to 25 km/h are liable for fines and demerit points based on the level of speeding, and court penalties of up to $2500 may apply.

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