Emer­gency safety

Seymour Telegraph - - NEWS - Driv­ers must safely slow to 40 km/h when pass­ing a sta­tion­ary or slow-mov­ing Vic­to­ria Po­lice, Am­bu­lance Vic­to­ria, CFA or SES ve­hi­cle. By Ali­son O’Con­nor

New road rules to pro­tect emer­gency work­ers on our roads have been wel­comed by lo­cal po­lice.

The Vic­to­rian Govern­ment has in­tro­duced the new law, which took ef­fect on Satur­day.

Driv­ers must safely slow to 40 km/h when pass­ing a sta­tion­ary or slow-mov­ing emer­gency ve­hi­cle that is re­spond­ing to an emer­gency with flash­ing lights or a siren sound­ing.

After pass­ing the ve­hi­cle, driv­ers should not in­crease speed again un­til reach­ing a safe dis­tance from the scene, so emer­gency work­ers can do their job with­out fear of be­ing hit by pass­ing traf­fic.

A num­ber of emer­gency work­ers have been killed and in­jured on Vic­to­rian roads after be­ing struck by pass­ing ve­hi­cles or de­bris, while al­most one in five emer­gency ser­vice work­ers said they’d had four or more near misses while stopped on the road­side over the past three years.

Sey­mour High­way Pa­trol Act­ing Se­nior Sergeant David Gille­spie wel­comed the new rule, saying it would help make the work en­vi­ron­ment for emer­gency ser­vices work­ers safer.

‘‘In my ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing on the side of the road, whether at a col­li­sion, in­ter­cept­ing a ve­hi­cle or talk­ing to some­one, when a car goes past you at any­thing over 60 km/h, which is what most ru­ral roads are, it’s a fright­en­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,’’ Se­nior Sergeant Gille­spie said.

‘‘A driver’s re­ac­tion times and break­ing dis­tances in­crease the quicker they are go­ing, so if a driver needs to take im­me­di­ate ac­tion while pass­ing the scene, the slower they are go­ing the bet­ter.’’

How­ever, the RACV has raised con­cerns about the new rule, with roads and traf­fic man­ager Dave Jones ar­gu­ing the law needed to be more clearly ex­plained to road users last month.

‘‘In some sit­u­a­tions, for ex­am­ple high-speed coun­try roads that have got hills, they’re un­du­lat­ing roads and sharp bends,’’ he told ra­dio sta­tion 3AW.

‘‘It may be very dif­fi­cult for some­one to see the flash­ing emer­gency ve­hi­cles’ lights far enough in ad­vance so they can slow down to 40 in time.

‘‘And if they do man­age to slam on the an­chors . . . will any ve­hi­cle be­hind them be able to do it?’’

The new rule ap­plies to Vic­to­ria Po­lice, Am­bu­lance Vic­to­ria, CFA and SES ve­hi­cles.

Fines of $277 and a max­i­mum court penalty of $793 will ap­ply. No de­merit points ap­ply.


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