A proposal by Victoria’s motoring club could result in the state’s motorists slowing down for more roadside workers in the name of safety, despite the lower speeds having previously led to near-misses and crashes.

    The Victorian Legislative Assembly Economy and Infrastructure Parliamentary Committee has backed a proposal by the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) to introduce a 40km/h speed limit when passing tow trucks and emergency roadside assistance vehicles with flashing lights.

    At present, motorists travelling in Victoria are only required to slow down to 40km/h for traditional emergency service vehicles – such as ambulances and police and fire vehicles – when their flashing lights are activated.

    It follows the proposal of a 25km/h limit when passing emergency roadside assistance vehicles in South Australia –tabled 10 years after the speed limit was introduced for first responders – which is due to be introduced in State Parliament in the near future.

    The introduction of the RACV’s proposal would see roadside assistance workers, such as those it employs, covered by the same protections.

    “Every day, hundreds of our workers put themselves at risk of injury and death from fast-moving vehicles while helping over 820,000 Victorians annually,” said RACV motoring products general manager Jeff Ames in a media statement.

    “We welcome the Committee’s recommendation of a review but believe the Victorian Government should urgently introduce legislation to reduce the speed limit in Victoria, to protect worker safety.

    “RACV has been in discussions with the Victorian Government to introduce a 40 kilometre per hour speed limit when driving past or overtaking any incident response service.

    “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.”

    Though the reduced speed limit when passing emergency response vehicles is intended to protect vulnerable road users, there have been instances where following vehicles haven’t seen the flashing lights and don’t react in time to the rapidly slowing traffic, causing separate incidents.

    A 2019 report by ABC News showcased dashcam footage of multiple crashes involving vehicle which had correctly slowed down but which were in turn struck by other motorists who hadn’t noticed the changed conditions.

    Then-South Australian Emergency Services Minister Corey Wingard told the publication the state’s 25km/h limit was not only out of step with other jurisdictions but was arguably more dangerous.

    “You can see from the vision we’ve supplied — when cars slow down to 25 from 100 — if the vehicle behind doesn’t see that, it can be incredibly dangerous,” Mr Wingard told ABC News.

    In Western Australia and Tasmania, motorists are required to slow down to 40km/h when passing any emergency vehicle, including roadside assistance workers, if their flashing lights are activated.

    This 40km/h limit also applies in New South Wales, though only on roads with a posted speed limit of 80km/h or lower. For those signposted at 80km/h and above, motorists “must slow down safely and move over”.

    The state had initially introduced a blanket rule for the 40km/h limit, but this was later revised to the current requirements.

    While Queensland requires “motorists to move over and slow down when passing a stationary emergency response vehicle displaying blue, red, magenta or yellow flashing lights”, it doesn’t specify what speed they must slow to. 

    There is currently no law in the Northern Territory requiring motorists to slow down for either traditional emergency vehicles or roadside assistance responders.

    Jordan Mulach

    Born and raised in Canberra, Jordan has worked as a full-time automotive journalist since 2021, being one of the most-published automotive news writers in Australia before joining CarExpert in 2024.

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