Border paramedics welcome new speed limits for drivers passing emergency vehicles at work

GO SLOW: Upper Hume group manager Ian Hunt welcomes a new speed limit for passing emergency vehicles at a scene. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE
GO SLOW: Upper Hume group manager Ian Hunt welcomes a new speed limit for passing emergency vehicles at a scene. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

Ian Hunt was once almost hit by a car at the scene of a crash and knows paramedics who have left the job because of such incidents.

It’s why the Ambulance Victoria Upper Hume group manager has welcomed new laws enforcing 40km/h speeds for drivers passing emergency vehicles.

From July 1, the limit will apply to any situation across Victoria where a stationary or slow-moving emergency vehicle with lights or sirens activated is attending an incident – from major crashes to speeding drivers pulled over by police.

Mr Hunt said the incentive was important, particularly for minor incidents.

“The majority of our work, we’re the only responder going there,” he said.

“Our paramedics are taught to park in a way that protects the scene, but then we’ve had incidents where that vehicle has been struck and something off the vehicle has injured our paramedics.

“I had my own experience several years ago where I was standing right next to a police car with a reflective vest on and lights everywhere, and a car mirror missed me by centimetres.”

Wodonga Highway Patrol Sergeant Cameron Roberts said drivers passing a scene at high speed was a “frequent” occurrence.

Wodonga Highway Patrol Sergeant Cameron Roberts

Wodonga Highway Patrol Sergeant Cameron Roberts

“Many people feel it’s fine to blast past a stationary police vehicle, two or three feet from the road, leaving no margin for era whatsoever,” he said.

“At crashes, you’ll have all sorts of people walking around the roadside, so the idea is for traffic to go past at a manageable speed in case someone does step out.

“It’s all about safety.”

The RACV raised concerns with the state government about the practicality of slowing down from speeds of up to 110km/h on country roads and freeways.

Sergeant Roberts said it was up to the attentiveness of drivers to do so safely.

“I think if people are paying attention and looking well ahead, they will be able to slow down,” he said.

“It’s obviously something we’d like self-policed by people who are going past us.

“I think it’s a good idea; it’s similar to what happens in other states.”

This story Limit a push for safety first appeared on The Border Mail.