Go­ing 110kmh won’t change your life

Matamata Chronicle - - Motoring - MATT RILKOFF

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.

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