Roadside patrols and members at risk

The RACT has welcomed the State Government’s campaign to raise awareness of the safety of roadside workers, saying near-misses with our roadside patrols and members were a worrying trend.

​​​​​​The Department of State Growth last week launched "Your Speed is Our Safety – Slow Down for Road Workers" – a campaign that aims to raise motorists' awareness of safety risks for workers at roadworks and to improve driver behaviour – in particular to improve compliance with posted speed limits. ​

​The RACT is also calling on drivers to be more aware of the potential dangers of people working on the roadside.

"In two years we have had five reported near-misses where patrols or contractors have been put in danger, while working at the roadside, by inattentive or careless drivers," RACT General Manager, Safety and Wellbeing Geoff Eyers said.

"The near-misses were generally more serious in nature, where a motorist passed so close to the breakdown scene (at speed) they either caused damage to the patrol van or tow truck, or the incident left the patrolman or contractor shaken.

"The most recent serious close call was on Brooker Ave at the intersection with Abbotsfield Rd. A patrolman was attending a breakdown on the corner with all emergency lighting on and clearly visible to oncoming traffic.

"As the patrolman went to re-enter their van, a vehicle went so close by (at speed) and the passenger side mirror hit the patrolman on the back, causing the mirror to break and fold in.

"The person driving the car did not stop at the scene, leaving the patrolman shaken although fortunately uninjured."

Mr Eyers said in addition to near-misses, other concerning incidents had been reported with members putting themselves in danger, including:

  • Members stepping out in front of passing traffic at the breakdown scene. This is a common occurrence with members being situationally unaware of their surroundings, resulting in them often placing themselves in danger.
  • Children climbing out of the back of vehicles and running towards the road.

Other concerning incidents include:

  • Items have been thrown at patrolmen while working at the roadside.
  • Patrolmen have been abused at the roadside by impatient drivers due to traffic delays caused by the breakdown.
  • Side mirrors hit and/or broken on patrol vans.​​

​​RACT Roadside patrolmen and contractors are provided with extensive and regular workplace health and safety training, but they cannot control what goes on around them.

"While most road users are respectful of our roadside patrolmen and the work that they do, and behave accordingly, there still is a minority that disregard both our workers' and their own safety," Mr Eyers said.

"We would like to remind motorists that these people are just doing their jobs, at times in very risky situations.

"We ask people to be aware of patrol vans or tow trucks on the road, and particularly when their safety lights are flashing to slow down and be aware of people outside the vehicles."