THE State Government has introduced new road rules to protect emergency workers on our roads.
Drivers must safely slow to 40km/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 that 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.
A recent survey also found that 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.
These incidents are considered commonplace, but are often not recorded.
“Emergency Services workers are telling us that they feel in danger while they’re doing their job – we’ve listened to them and made these changes to protect the people who are out there protecting the community,” Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Luke Donnellan said.
“Most people already do the right thing and slow down when we see flashing lights ahead, but this new rule makes sure that everyone passes at a safe speed.”
The new rule applies to Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria, Metropolitan Fire Brigade, County Fire Authority and State Emergency Service vehicles.
It also applies to VicRoads Transport Safety Service vehicles with magenta flashing lights.
Previous road rules did not require drivers to reduce speed or take other action when passing a stationary emergency or enforcement vehicle.
The rule is consistent with existing 40km/h speed limit requirements in other areas where vulnerable road users are present, including roadwork sites and school zones.
The changes are the result of extensive consultation with Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria, Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Country Fire Authority, WorkSafe, Emergency Management Victoria, Department of Justice and Regulation, the Transport Accident Commission and RACV.
“Our emergency workers have stressful and demanding jobs, protecting us when we are at our most vulnerable,” Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy said.
“We’re making these changes so they can do their job without fear of being injured or killed by a passing vehicle.
“It’s a simple message – when you see flashing lights ahead slow to 40 to keep our emergency workers safe. It might mean you arrive at your destination a little later, but it could save a life.”
The fine for an infringement of the new road rule is $277 and the maximum court penalty is $793.
No demerit points apply.