Going 110kmh won’t change your life
Opinion: So the good news is in. From next year it should be possible to drive 110kmh on some roads.
What a relief. All those years driving 10kmh slower than that have been beginning to put pressure on our good nature. We’ve been a nation on the leash.
Except the announcement the higher speed limit could be a possibility from next year is hardly a win for those of us with a heavy foot.
The new limit could only be able to be applied (so far) to 150km of existing road. That’s the four lane, super modern, separated by a median strip type of roads you see heading in and out of cities.
The ones where everyone drives 110kmh when they can anyway.
The reasons for raising the speed limit have not been very well spelled out quite yet, aside from the fact some roads can handle it, the AA think it’s worth doing and other country’s do it too.
An Otago University study published in 2012 found the faster traffic flow would also bring with it $22m in economic gain, allowing for the 1.2 extra road fatalities it could be expected to cause.
When spread across 4.4 million people, the reward of $5 each hardly seems worth the increased risk, small at it is, of dying while getting from A to B. But there are other benefits supportors of the change often bring up.
Some of those who are currently amassing fines for breaking the existing speed limit will no longer have to be distracted by looking out for speed cameras or pulling to the side of the road for the highway patrol.
We’ll also have more and better chances to test our car’s modern braking systems and the other myriad of safety features currently cruelly under utilised. Then there are the downsides. Fuel efficiency is the big loser.
Cars burn more fuel the faster they go and so while the country may benefit as a whole from the higher limit, you may find your wallet does not.
Faster cars also make more noise. Living beside a motorway will become just that little bit more unpleasant. Is that cost included in the $22m?
Going faster also reduces the time you have to correct your mistakes. Aside from an increased incidence of crashes, how many more people will miss their motorway exits if we’re all going 10kmh faster?
Is that a cost in terms of fuel inefficiency or a benefit in terms of surprise sight seeing? Before we jump in and agree with the proposal the question needs to be what actual, measurable difference will 10kmh make to our lives.
Will we be able to get to work on time more easily than we do now? Will we spend less time in our cars and more time with our families and, importantly, will it stop your Friday night takeaways going soggy before you get home?
The answer to those questions is ‘probably not’.
Which is not a compelling argument to stop this change.
Drivers have signalled their willingness for an increase in open road speed limits to 110kmh on safe motorways in an AA member report.