A change in the road rules to stop motorists exceeding 40km/h when passing a stationary or slow-moving emergency services vehicle when its lights are flashing is a sensible move.
We welcome the new rule that will come into effect from July 1, in an initiative that is aimed to protect our valued emergency services.
Our communities rely on local police, CFA firefighters, State Emergency Service personnel and Shepparton Search and Rescue Squad volunteers to keep them safe in the event of serious incidents.
When this does occur, their time is spent in often dynamic or dangerous situations with the welfare of the public front of mind.
Their job has the potential to be hazardous enough without them having to worry about the possibility of being hit by a car while in the course of their daily duties.
Sadly, this was a reality in 2005 when a Benalla policeman, Rennie Page, sadly died after being struck by a passing car while issuing a speeding fine on the Hume Fwy.
The Victorian Government said a number of emergency workers had been killed or injured on Victorian roads after being struck by passing vehicles or debris.
A recent survey found that almost one in five emergency service workers said they’d had four or more near misses while stopped on the roadside during the past three years.
Emergency services have commented that in general, these incidents are commonplace.
It shows that there must be more awareness by motorists of these situations — there is surely no good excuse for travelling at speed and too close to someone stopped on the side of the road simply doing their job.
When you consider it would add less than a minute to the journey, it’s definitely worth slowing down to ensure there is not an unnecessary tragedy.
The new rule now delivers a clear message to motorists — if you see an emergency services vehicle with its lights flashing or sirens activated, you must slow down.
In essence, it’s really just common sense, but now it’s clear in black and white for everyone to see and take on board when they are on the roads.