Six years ago, 23-year- old Sarah Frazer was on the way to her first day of university in Wagga Wagga when her car broke down.
As the young, budding photographer waited in the breakdown lane on the Hume Highway, NRMA contractor and father of four, Geoffrey Clark, loaded her car onto his tow-truck. What should have been an inconvenience to Sarah’s day, became a tragic crash that should have never happened.
An approaching truck driver ran straight into the broken down car, killing Sarah and Geoff instantly. Following this tragic loss of life, the NRMA joined a collective of groups to promote road safety near breakdowns.
The day Sarah and Geoff lost their lives was horrific for the Frazer and Clark families and all NRMA staff. We don’t ever want to experience what we went through on 15 February 2012 in Port Stephens or anywhere else.
In May 2012, the Safe Australian Roads and Highways Group, delivered a petition with 23,000 signatures to the NSW Government that called for a Slow Down Move Over law to protect police, emergency services, roadside assistance and tow truck drivers.
After six years of lobbying, the NSW and ACT Governments responded with disappointing Slow Down, Move Over laws that simply don’t go far enough in protecting all emergency and incident responders.
While NSW drivers will soon have to slow down to 40km/hour around emergency vehicles with blue and red flashing lights, the new laws do not cover breakdown responders such as yellow lighted NRMA patrols and tow truck drivers like Geoffrey Clark.
If the Government is actually listening to the community, why would they act to exclude those roadside patrol and tow truck operators who are constantly in harm’s way? They deserve to get home to their loved ones safely too.
In the Port Stephens area alone, the NRMA attended over 10,000 breakdowns over a one year period from August 2016.
More also needs to be done to explain the new Slow Down, Move Over laws to the community. Significant fines will apply from September and these laws will require a shift in behaviour from drivers - there can be no ambiguity.
These road safety laws must provide the same level of protection to those men and women who rush to help people who break-down every day. The Government needs to make this change immediately.