Speed re­duc­tion likely to up­set


Traf­fic on ru­ral roads could be slowed to 80kmh with re­gional trans­port bosses seek­ing a blan­ket re­duc­tion of the open road speed limit.

But road safety cam­paign­ers are ques­tion­ing the move with one say­ing road users won’t like it and a mo­tor­ing ex­pert say­ing peo­ple might just ig­nore it.

Dog and Lemon car re­view web­site ed­i­tor Clive MatthewWil­son, com­pared the move to cannabis laws.

‘‘They only work if peo­ple obey them,’’ Matthew-Wil­son said.

Last week the Waikato Re­gional Trans­port Com­mit­tee (RTC) voted unan­i­mously, to have chair­man Hugh Ver­coe draft a let­ter to the Labour-led gov­ern­ment ask­ing that open road speeds on ru­ral, coun­cilowned roads be cut from 100kmh to a max­i­mum of 80kmh or 90kmh.

‘‘We need to do some­thing be­cause the most dan­ger­ous roads that we’ve got in our net­work are the ru­ral roads. Not the state high­ways, not the ur­ban roads but the ru­ral roads that were never built for the 100kph de­fault speed,’’ Ver­coe said.

Ver­coe ac­knowl­edged the speed re­duc­tion on lo­cal roads is a ‘‘big call’’ but said lit­tle has been done in the past and the re­gion’s toll is ris­ing.

‘‘We’ve talked about this, we’ve been down to Welling­ton, we’ve done ev­ery­thing and ev­ery­body says there are too many fa­tal­i­ties on our roads, but no­body is ac­tu­ally done any­thing to re­verse it,’’ he said.

But Matthew-Wil­son doubts the ef­fec­tive­ness of the move.

‘‘Hon­est driv­ers will slow down if the speed lim­its are low­ered. How­ever, the high risk groups will sim­ply con­tinue driv­ing reck­lessly, un­less there’s a cop on ev­ery cor­ner.’’

When no other fac­tors are in­volved, speed ac­counts for 15 per cent of all fa­tal­i­ties on the roads, ac­cord­ing to the NZ Trans­port Agency. Add al­co­hol and drugs into the mix and the num­ber in­creases to 44 per cent.

Re­gional Trans­port Com­mit­tee chair­man Hugh Ver­coe will write a let­ter to the Gov­ern­ment ask­ing to re­duce the open road speed on Waikato ru­ral roads.

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