SPEED – KILLER OR LIFESAVER
State Highways, including motorways, in many parts of N.Z. consist of many curves joined by relatively few short straights and the occasional passing lane of unknown length and some terminating around blind corners.
It is not unusual for cautious drivers and those not familiar with the road (including tourists) to drive at a speed of 80-85 km/h and on entering a straight speed up to 100 km/h, making passing difficult within the current maximum speed without incurring a speeding ticket, of 105 km/h on public holidays or otherwise 110 km/h. This situation results in a “train” of cars, buses and trucks awaiting a passing opportunity, which are few and far between, and the cause of frustrated drivers.
The main problem, apart from the limited passing opportunities is that when they do occur the speed limit does not allow many cars to pass when passing lanes are present or to pass safely when they are not.
The following various overtaking speeds and approximate distance estimates include the two-second rule before and after overtaking. 1. Car travelling at 100 km/h Overtaking car at 105 km/h Total distance travelled during overtaking 2450 metres. 2. Car travelling at 100 km/h Overtaking car at 110 km/h Total distance travelled during overtaking 1260 metres. 3. Car travelling at 100 km/h
Overtaking car at 125 km/h Total distance travelled during overtaking 504 metres 4. B-train travelling at 90 km/h Overtaking car at 105 km/h Total distance travelled during overtaking 808 metres 5. B-train travelling at 90 km/h Overtaking car at 110 km/h Total distance travelled during overtaking 619 metres 6. B-train travelling at 90 km/h Overtaking car at 125 km/h Total distance travelled during overtaking 377 metres The above show the inherent safety of a higher passing speed, particularly when there is no passing lane and faced with the prospect of on-coming traffic and when there is a passing lane allowing a greater number of cars to pass.
A further factor, which would improve safety, is at the commencement of a passing lane a prominent sign displaying the distance of the passing lane, at half distance a sign showing the distance to its termination and finally a sign showing 300 metres to its termination.
An increase in permitted speed tolerance to 125 km/h during overtaking would reduce the distance on the “wrong” side of the road by nearly 78% when passing a car at 100 km/h and nearly 53% when passing a B-train travelling at 90 km/h and the potential to save many lives.
The large advancement in technology of modern cars permits safer handling at higher speed than that legally permitted. The real problem is inadequate driver training.