Government slow down policy needs immediate rethink: NRMA

By Peter Khoury on 30 April 2018

The NRMA has today called on the NSW and ACT Governments to immediately amend their 40 km/hr ‘slow down’ policies announced last month to ensure the safety benefits are extended to roadside assistance and tow truck operators (SARAH laws).

The call from the NRMA coincides with National Road Safety Week (30 April – 6 May), which honours those who were killed and seriously injured on Australian roads. Each day focuses on a specific road safety theme and today honours roadside rescue workers, like NRMA patrols and tow truck drivers.

National Road Safety Week was born out of tragedy in 2012, when NRMA Contractor Geoffrey Clark and 23-year old Member Sarah Frazer were killed in the breakdown lane of the Hume Highway. This tragic loss of life culminated in a collective of groups coming together to promote road safety near breakdowns.

After years of lobbying by the NRMA and the SARAH (Safe Australian Roads and Highways) Group, the NSW and ACT Governments responded with laws that require drivers to slow down to 40 km/hr when passing emergency services. Their approach does not provide safety to breakdown responders such as NRMA patrols and tow truck drivers like Geoffrey Clark.

NRMA Chief Operating Officer Samantha Taranto said the policy introduced in the ACT and the trial commencing in NSW were inadequate.

“These policies need to provide the same level of protection to those men and women who rush to help people broken down every day – both Governments need to make this change immediately,” Ms Taranto said.

“The day Sarah and Geoff lost their lives was horrific for the Frazer and Clark families and all NRMA staff. We do not ever want to experience what we went through on 15 February 2012.

“Breakdown rescues are dangerous work and the NSW and ACT Governments need to change their approach. More also needs to be done to explain these laws to the community. Significant fines will apply and these laws will require a shift in behaviour from drivers - there can be no ambiguity. ”

SARAH President Peter Frazer and the NSW Opposition called on the Government to amend its policy.

“This year’s theme for National Road Safety Week is ‘Drive So Others Survive’, so when people are out on our roads and highways protecting us, we need to actively look after them. Their lives, and the lives of those they are helping, should not be placed in additional jeopardy when we can easily reduce that risk,” Mr Frazer said.

“In May 2012 we delivered a 23,000 petition to the NSW Government that called for a ‘slow down move over’ law to protect Police, Emergency Services, Roadside Assistance and Tow Truck drivers (SARAH law). So if the Government is listening to the community, why would they act to exclude those NRMA patrols and tow truck operators who are out there in harm’s way 24/7? They deserve to get home to their loved ones safe.

“Last Sunday saw the launch of National Road Safety Week in Perth. I took great pleasure in congratulating the Minister for Road Safety, Hon Michelle Roberts MLA for leading the nation with this best practice legislation. The Western Australia Government introduced this law for one simple reason, every life matters.”

The NRMA is actively supporting National Road Safety Week by flying yellow ribbons on all patrol vans, lighting Manly Fast Ferry vessels in yellow and branding Travelodge Hotels in Australia and Hotel Kurrajong Canberra room key wallets with a yellow ribbon.

Contact: Peter Khoury 0439 133 115