A crash on the Bruce Highway. The RACQ is calling for new laws to protect roadside workers and emergency responders.
A crash on the Bruce Highway. The RACQ is calling for new laws to protect roadside workers and emergency responders. Stuart Cumming

'Very scary': Calls to protect responders inches from death

MIKE Clayton dreads the day he will have to call the family of one of his workers with the worst news.

"It's very scary out there," the Clayton's Towing owner told the Daily, in the wake of renewed calls for new laws that would force motorists to slow down and move over when emergency or incident responders were working on a high-speed roadside.

The RACQ has again lobbied the Queensland Government to introduce legislation, following the lead of other states.

RACQ head of technical and safety policy Steve Spalding said the laws had now been introduced Victoria, South Australia and as of last week Western Australia.

"These rules are about protecting our emergency responders whose lives are at risk by working in a high-speed, dangerous environment," Mr Spalding said.

"The law requires motorists to reduce their speed when approaching an emergency or incident response vehicle and change lanes when possible and safe to do so.

Mr Claytons urged motorists to use "common sense" to safely reduce their speed and move over when possible.

"When you're out on the side of the highway trying to load a vehicle and you've got sometimes not even centimetres between you and vehicles going past at 110kmh when you've got your warning lights on, it really does sometimes feel like people don't even move across one little bit, they don't slow down.

"I want my staff to go home to their families at night, and my biggest fear in this job is that one day a catastrophe is going to happen, and I'm going to be ringing up some wife or family and telling them something I wish I didn't have to tell them."

He said over the years several cars had smashed into the company's vehicles as they responded to incidents or breakdowns.

"We've had a couple of incidents where vehicles have ploughed into our tow trucks, and these can be tow trucks parked off the road but people just aren't looking.

Mr Spalding said the protection should apply to responders such as ambulances, police vehicles, fire crews, RACQ traffic response vehicles, RACQ patrol vehicles and tow trucks.

"Tragically we've seen lives of emergency respondents lost and it's time for the Queensland Government to act to reduce the risk to those working to save lives and ease traffic delays on Queensland highways."


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