WIMMERA emergency services have welcomed new road rule changes that will improve safety.
From July 1, drivers must safely slow to 40 kilometres an hour when passing a stationary or slow-moving emergency vehicle that has flashing lights or a siren sounding.
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.
Country Fire Authority district 17 operations officer Craig Brittain welcomed the change.
“For all emergency vehicles, there have been many reports of near misses and incidents over the years,” he said.
“The change means any vehicle on the side of the road with its lights flashing, other vehicles have to slow down to 40 kilometres an hour.”
Mr Brittain said all emergency services would be pleased with the change.
“This is another way we can ensure that we keep our volunteers safe,” he said.
After passing the vehicle, drivers should not increase speed again until reaching a safe distance from the scene, so that emergency workers can do their job without fear of being hit by passing traffic.
Any driver that doesn’t comply with the new rule could be fined $277 and the maximum court penalty is $793.
No demerit points apply.
Roads and Road Safety Minister Luke Donnellan said emergency Services workers felt in danger while they’re doing their job. “We’ve listened to them and made these changes to protect the people who are out there helping the community,” he said.
“Most people already do the right thing and slow down when we see flashing lights ahead, but this new rule will make sure that everyone passes at a safe speed.”
Health and Ambulance Services Minister Jill Hennessy said emergency workers had stressful and demanding jobs.
“They protect us when we are at our most vulnerable,” she said. “We’re making these changes so they can do their job without fear.”