Govt. to Act on First Responders Safety

The Palaszczuk Government has announced it will soon start detailed consultation into how Queensland can better protect the safety of first responders from passing motorists.

The government committed during the 2020 election to undertake the policy review, which is expected to be completed later this year.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey made the announcement during National Road Safety Week and said the government will work closely with first responders and peak industry bodies like RACQ.

“Police officers, paramedics, fire and emergency services crews, and traffic response units are all there for us when traffic crashes and other incidents occur,” Mr Bailey said.

“Their workplace is often by the side of the road, and it is critical they and the people they help are protected.

"This consultation process will inform possible new or amended road rules for government consideration, along with possible improvements to driver education, safety campaigns and traffic management solutions to help keep our first responders safe.

“We have worked closely with emergency services and RACQ to educate drivers on the importance of moving over, slowing down and giving responders the space to do their work safely – and we’ll work with them closely as part of this consultation process.

“The Palaszczuk Government is delivering a record $26.9 billion to build better and safer transport across Queensland, and these potential reforms could play an important role in complementing our investments in Queensland roads.

“A key component of our record investment is $1.4 billion in particular for dedicated road safety upgrades – which was bolstered by joint funding for 87 new road safety projects across the state.”

Mr Bailey urged all motorists to continue to obey signs at roadworks and to reduce their speed and move over to improve the safety of first responders attending to a crash or break down.

Glenn Toms, RACQ Group Executive Assistance said RACQ had been lobbying for ‘move over or slow down’ laws to better protect first responders and was pleased the Government had taken the first step towards delivering on its election promise to improve safety for not just Queensland drivers but its Roadside Assistance workers.

“More than 70 percent of our on-road workers tell us they experience a near-miss anywhere from once a year, up to 10 or more times,” Mr Toms said.

“Our staff often have vehicles passing at 80 to 110km/h, just centimetres away, and being struck at that speed would almost certainly result in death or life-altering injury, and its scary to think it’s just a matter of time until someone’s luck runs out.

“More than 85 percent of Queensland drivers have told us they’d support a road rule requiring drivers to move over or slow down at a crash or roadside incident, so we look forward to working with the Government on these vital next steps in making this life-saving law a reality.

“Queensland led the nation in being the first State to have laws protecting cyclists by giving them a safe passing distance of at least one metre, and stranded motorists and the workers assisting them can be just as vulnerable, so we are pleased the Government will consider applying similar legislation to improve road safety.”

President of Safer Australian Roads and Highways Peter Frazer said the group are pleased with that this very important announcement from Minister Bailey has been made during Yellow Ribbon National Road Safety Week.

“This is a great first step to ensure the protection of every vulnerable life, and especially all those whose workplace is our roads and highways,” Mr Frazer said.

“Whether they are police and emergency services, roadside assistance, tow truck drivers, traffic controller or road workers, they have a fundamental right to get home safe to their loved ones, every day, without exception!

“We look forward to contributing to this important consultation.”

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