ARSRPE Conference Paper Database

Breakdown Safety Strategy: For improved road safety in breakdown situations

Prendergast, Margaret, Reardon, N, Ngo, L

Policy Development and Implementation


The tragic deaths in February 2012 of a young female motorist who had broken down, and the tow truck driver who came to her aid, highlighted a gap in policy and programs to improve the safety in breakdown situations. The incident emphasised the complex nature of developing Safe System measures to improve breakdown safety, given the variety of situations and road environments on the network, and the different types of vehicles that may provide breakdown assistance. To enable a holistic analysis of this problem, Transport for NSW and Roads and Maritime Services worked with stakeholders from the NSW Police Force, NRMA Motoring and Services and WorkCover to apply the Safe Systems approach to develop the Breakdown Safety Strategy. Released in September, the Strategy contains 22 actions to improve breakdown safety for all road users. The actions include a mix of measures to improve tow truck vehicle standards, engineering remedies, legislative change and an innovative education campaign. The Government is also working with industry to improve training for tow truck operators and first response vehicles to ensure the breakdown site is as safe and secure as possible. An audit of breakdown lanes was undertaken, with further more detailed reviews being undertaken, with the view to future remedial works. A change to NSW legislation will assist in raising awareness of the dangers faced by people in breakdown situations, particularly in high speed environments. Transport for NSW’s Breakdown Safety Glove Box Guide was released in December 2012 to provide a handy practical guide for all road users on how to stay safe in a breakdown situation and how to assist in the safety of those who have broken down.