RACV campaign to safeguard roadside workers and customers gains momentum

Road safety arrival


Posted November 02, 2023

Earlier this month, RACV called on the Victorian government to change the road rules to ensure emergency roadside assistance workers and tow truck drivers who work alongside fast-moving vehicles are protected, as well as their customers.  

Known as the 'Slow Down, Move Over' rule, Victoria remains one of the few jurisdictions in Australia that does not have the rule that requires drivers to slow to 40km per hour when passing emergency roadside assistance vehicles or tow trucks.  
RACV General Manager Automotive Services, Jackie Pedersen, said RACV is asking the Victorian Government to amend Road Rule 79A, to give emergency roadside assistance workers the same protection as in Queensland, Western Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania and the ACT. This means the rule would apply to vehicles with flashing yellow lights, not just those with red and blue lights. 

With 1200 lives lost on Victorian roads in the last five years and the 2023 toll at its highest level since 2019, the proposal seeks to address these risks effectively. 

Media coverage 

On 9 October, 2023, RACV’s call for changes received significant media coverage across the state from a range of stakeholders. For example, Deputy Premier Ben Carroll stated in a radio interview:

"We identify that the road space is a workplace, and that whatever we can do to support workers on the road, whether they‘re people, tow truck drivers, or whether they’re SES emergency vehicles that are attending an incident or accident, we want to do everything we can to support them as they go about their job."  

Awaiting changes to Road Rule 79A 

Specifics on when Road Rule 79A could be amended are pending confirmation from the Road Safety Minister.   



RACV says roadside assistance workers and customer must be protected. Image: Michael Vojtek

Current situation in Victoria 

Victoria, notably, stands out as one of the few Australian jurisdictions omitting tow truck drivers and emergency roadside workers from the 'Slow Down, Move Over' rule.

In contrast, most Australian states and territories have already adopted the 'Slow Down, Move Over' rule to ensure the safety of roadside workers and those they assist. This includes Queensland, Western Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania, and South Australia:  

  • Queensland: Drivers are required to slow down and move over into another lane (if possible) when passing roadside assistance vehicles with flashing lights. 
  • Western Australia: Drivers must slow to 40km per hour when approaching stationary roadside assistance vehicles that are displaying flashing lights at an incident.  
  • New South Wales: The 'Slow Down, Move Over' rule mandates drivers to slow down to 40km per hour when passing stationary roadside assistance vehicles with flashing yellow lights in speed limits of 80km per hour or less, and must give way to any person on foot associated with the assistance vehicles. On roads with a speed limit of 90km or more, drivers must slow to a reasonable safe speed.  
  • Tasmania: Drivers must safely slow down to 40km per hour when passing roadside assistance vehicles displaying flashing lights. On roads over 80km per hour, drivers must slow down as safely as they can.  
  • South Australia: Drivers are advised to slow down and be cautious when passing a roadside assistance vehicle.  

RACV's call for changes that will also keep customers safe 

Pedersen emphasised the urgency of amending Road Rule 79A to align with other states and territories.  

“Emergency roadside assistance workers are often the first in attendance at the scene of an incident or breakdown,” she says.  

“Victoria’s emergency roadside workers and tow truck drivers are exposed to the same risk as other responders, such as paramedics and police, while working at the side of the road.” 

Ms Pedersen underlined the significance of safety for all Victorians, including the hundreds of RACV service providers who risk injury daily, while assisting over 820,000 Victorians annually.  

“Safety is the number one priority for all Victorians,” Pedersen said.  

The proposed modification to Road Rule 79A would effectively extend protection not only to workers, but also to customers waiting on the roadside.