25 km/h limit now applies around RAA roadside assistance vehicles in South Australia

Legislation has been passed to improve safety for mechanics at roadsides. Photo: RAA.

Next time you see a stationary Royal Automobile Association of South Australia (RAA) roadside assistance vehicle on the side of the road with its amber-coloured hazard lights flashing, you will be required to slow down to 25 km/h as you pass.

The new rule is part of legislation passed last week by the South Australian Parliament in an effort to improve safety for roadside assistance mechanics in the state and is an extension of existing legislation that protects frontline emergency services workers.

The government says RAA workers attend more than 950 callouts a day in the state, with an increasing number on high-speed arterial roads where workers and drivers and passengers waiting at the roadside are particularly vulnerable.

It says the RAA has reported 20 safety incidents caused by cars driving past breakdowns without due care in the past four years, including five incidents in which service vans were hit by a car or motorcycle, and seven where traffic cones were knocked over or dragged down the road by passing vehicles.

Drivers who fail to slow down to 25 km/h are liable for fines and demerit points based on the level of speeding, and court penalties of up to $2500 may apply.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Minister for Energy and Mining Tom Koutsantonis said the extension of the rules to RAA workers was a commonsense measure that protected the people who helped motorists when car troubles struck.

“A vehicle breakdown is not only inconvenient, it can also create an unsafe situation for the driver and their passengers, as well as the professionals who come to help,” he said.

“While roadside workers do what they can to make the breakdown site safe and keep everyone at a safe distance, inattentive driving – and going past too fast – can have dire consequences for all.

“When you see an RAA patrol van flashing amber lights and traffic cones at the roadside, please slow down and adhere to the reduced speed limit,” he added. “Workers might be out of sight, underneath the vehicle working on a repair or changing a tyre – and there may also be small children nearby waiting with their family to get back on the road.”

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union Assistant State Secretary Stuart Gordon congratulated the SA Government for recognising the need to ensure all roadside workers are safe doing their job.

“The members of the AMWU in the RAA have been campaigning for 20 years to see these reforms introduced after a roadside worker was nearly killed by a driver who hit a roadside assistant vehicle in 2003,” he said.

“A majority of other states have had these laws in place for a number of years, and these changes now ensure that roadside workers in South Australia have the same protections.”

The speed limits for passing roadside assist vehicles in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania, and the ACT require drivers to slow to 40 km/h, although in some states such as NSW this only applies if the normal speed limit is 80 km/h or lower.

RAA Senior Manager Safety & Infrastructure Charles Mountain said almost every South Australian motorist would have a story about when they were rescued at the roadside by an RAA patrol.

“No-one chooses when or where they break down, and we welcome any measure that helps keep our patrols, members and the community safe at the roadside,” he said.

“We’ve seen dozens of near misses and our patrol vans have been hit five times over the last several years, so it’s only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed.

“This is not just about keeping our patrols safe, but also our 820,000 members and the rest of the South Australian community who might need a tow or other assistance.”


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