New law divides opinion on roads

File image.
File image.

The RACV has renewed calls for a review into a controversial 40km/h speed limit when passing emergency vehicles in the wake of a serious collision in Bacchus Marsh.

RACV general manager of public policy Brian Negus said the motoring club was concerned about the capability of vehicles to safely slow down to 40km/h on roads with speed limits upwards of 100km/h.

He also said the rule should be amended so drivers do not need to slow for emergency vehicles in service roads.

“RACV has listened to its members and believes VicRoads needs to provide more notice to the Victorian community about any changes to the road rules, and publicise the changes well in advance of them coming into effect,” Mr Negus said. 

“For example, there should be greater community consultation, consideration of a mandatory 30-day notice period and mass media communications.”

The new law was announced on June 19 and came into effect on Saturday.

Bur Mr Negus said this did not give road users enough time to absorb the changes.

It took only 24 hours before a truck slammed into the rear of a car that was adhering to the new law along the Western Highway near the Lederderg River bridges in Bacchus Marsh on Sunday night.

A police investigation into the incident was ongoing.

In response, Acting Minister for Roads and Road Safety John Eren said the new rule was about protecting people who put themselves in harms way to keep the public safe. 

“Emergency workers have asked for this rule so they can do their jobs safely, and we’ve delivered it,” he said.

The government developed the law over 18 months through consultation with a working group of emergency services, enforcement agencies and other parties.

This included VicRoads, the Police Association, Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria, Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Country Fire Authority and WorkSafe.

Additional consultation on the proposed road rule was conducted with Emergency Management Victoria, SES, Department of Justice and Regulation, TAC and RACV.     

Mr Negus said: “RACV acknowledges the need to ensure emergency services workers operate in safe environments, however, we are concerned about the lack of public understanding of the new rule when passing emergency vehicles.”