Law welcomed

July 05, 2017

New law: One of the many graphics promoting the new speed limit of 40km/h when travelling past emergency services vehicles with flashing lights or sirens.

Local emergency services have welcomed new speed laws designed to help protect workers while on the job.

All motorists must slow down to 40km/h when passing a stationary or slow-moving emergency vehicle with flashing lights or a siren sounding under laws which came into effect on Saturday.

Cobram Fire Brigade captain Adrian Hilder said it was a welcome measure which would allow emergency services workers to feel safer when responding to incidents.

‘‘When we’re responding to motor vehicle accidents or roadside incidents, there are concerns for our safety because people who are driving past don’t slow down,’’ he said.

‘‘I think to have a requirement for people to stop if needed and slow down to 40km/h to keep us safe while we work will be a great thing.

‘‘We’ll often be working near a roadside and have people flying past us in cars.

‘‘Now we know we’re going to be safe when we’re out there responding to an incident, and we’ll be able to do what we need to do: help people.

‘‘I hope everyone does obey the new speed limit, because it is law and people will be fined if they’re caught.’’

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.

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 in the past three years.

These incidents are considered commonplace, but are often not recorded.

The new rule will apply 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.

The fine for an infringement of the new road rule is $277 and the maximum court penalty is $793. No demerit points apply.

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