Slow down, keep re­spon­ders safe

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS - By Pa­trick Tansey

Driv­ers in NSW must now slow down to 40 km/h around stopped emer­gency ve­hi­cles thanks to a new road rule that came into ef­fect on Septem­ber 1.

It is es­sen­tially the same rule that was in­tro­duced in Vic­to­ria on July 1 and has been de­signed to im­prove safety for emer­gency and en­force­ment work­ers.

The rule states that driv­ers must slow down to a speed that would en­able them to stop safely when ap­proach­ing and pass­ing en­force­ment, emer­gency or es­cort ve­hi­cles that are stationary or mov­ing slowly (less than 10 km/h) and have ei­ther red and blue flash­ing lights, ma­genta (pur­ple) flash­ing lights or an alarm sound­ing.

While the new law has been met with safety con­cerns by some driv­ers, Co­bram High­way Pa­trol Act­ing Sergeant Bill Dock­ery be­lieves it is a wise move to now have the rule in both NSW and Vic­to­ria.

‘‘We un­der­stand some peo­ple have con­cerns, but they need to trust that this rule will make it much safer for emer­gency re­spon­ders and en­force­ment ve­hi­cles at the scene of an ac­ci­dent,’’ Sgt Dock­ery said.

He said the rule would work well as long as driv­ers re­mained aware of safety cues once they saw flash­ing lights.

‘‘The point of the law is to make sure ev­ery­one is safe and the rea­son the pass­ing speed is 40 km/h is be­cause that’s the fastest pos­si­ble speed a hu­man body can sur­vive a col­li­sion with a ve­hi­cle,’’ he said.

Sgt Dock­ery said the rule made log­i­cal sense, adding that po­lice wit­nessed near misses ‘‘all the time’’ when it came to driv­ers nearly hit­ting emer­gency work­ers.

‘‘Sev­en­teen per cent of po­lice across Vic­to­ria have said they have been in­volved in a near-miss, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent sur­vey,’’ he said.

‘‘Sev­eral po­lice of­fi­cers have been killed in the past 10 to 15 years af­ter be­ing struck by a car at the scene of an emer­gency, so it does hap­pen and peo­ple need to be aware of that.’’

While new leg­is­la­tion has been in­tro­duced, it may be dif­fi­cult for po­lice to en­force be­cause their first pri­or­ity will be to tend to the ini­tial sub­ject.

This means po­lice are ask­ing for full co-op­er­a­tion from mem­bers of the pub­lic.

‘‘We are re­ally try­ing to en­cour­age ev­ery­one to re­ally buy in and we will be re­ly­ing on the good­will of the com­mu­nity,’’ Sgt Dock­ery said.

He be­lieves it will only be a mat­ter of time be­fore the law is en­forced na­tion­wide be­cause it speaks to ‘‘com­mon sense’’.

United: Co­bram po­lice, paramedics and fire­fight­ers are sup­port­ing a new road rule which re­quires mo­torists to slow down to 40 km/h when pass­ing a stationary emer­gency ve­hi­cle.

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