Government's new approach to speed

Land Transport NZ reports that 435 people were killed on NZ roads in 2004.  This is 26 fewer than 2003.               [Return to Articles - Contents Page]

Government has set a target of no more than 300 road deaths by 2010.  The two biggest causes of fatal car accidents are excessive speed (35% of fatalities) and drink driving (30%).  Fatalities involving people not wearing seat belts was 23%.

To support the reduced level of fatalities, Government is introducing a new programme of speed management measures that includes:

  • road engineering and roadside safety initiatives,
  • community programmes,
  • promotio, and 
  • speed zones

40 Test Sites around NZ

The new approach to setting open road speed limits and managing speed will be tested on about 40 sites around New Zealand from 2005, the Minister for Transport Safety, the Hon Harry Duynhoven announced on 21 December 2004.  Sites for the speed zone tests will be identified by Land Transport New Zealand (formerly the Land Transport Safety Authority) following public and local authority consultation. The first sites are scheduled to go live in July 2005.

Mr Duynhoven said, Currently in New Zealand we have an open road speed limit of 100km/h. This can only be reduced based on urban development such as the number of houses or schools along a road."

The new approach will allow a whole range of safety factors such as whether the road is straight or curved, has wide shoulders or narrow verges, safety barriers or undivided lanes, to be considered in setting the limit. The record of speed-related crashes on a road can also be taken into account

If the trials are successful, it will help correct the current situation where we put the same 100km/h speed limit on a four lane divided motorway as an undivided rural road with a high traffic volume.

Setting appropriate speed limits for the road, will assist motorists who drive too fast for the conditions but are still under the legal speed limit.

Key features of the programme

an evaluation of speed limit setting on about forty sites on open roads around New Zealand leading to a proposed change to the Speed Limits Rule (Land Transport NZ). In a related programme, sites on the State Highway network will also be tested (Transit New Zealand)
more accurate and better placed advisory speed signs on the open road (Transit NZ)
placing median barriers on 100km of highway over the next 3 years in high risk sites (Transit NZ)
a $7.5 million programme in 2004-05 to make roadsides safer in high risk areas (Transit NZ)
a Christchurch trial of an electronic sign capable of detecting the speed of cars and trucks and warning drivers who are approaching a corner too fast (Transit NZ)
a pack of resources to help communities intervene in and resolve their local speed problems (ACC/Land Transport NZ)
scoping an advertising approach to assist drivers to drive for the conditions under the speed limit (ACC/Land Transport NZ)
continued emphasis on the skid resistance of State Highways and taking action as appropriate to improve sections of road identified as being below standard (Transit NZ)

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