Trans­port Com­mit­tee wants power to lower ru­ral Waikato speed limit

Waipa Post - - News -

The Waikato Re­gional Trans­port Com­mit­tee is seek­ing govern­ment sup­port to re­duce the speed limit on Waikato ru­ral roads from 100km/h to 80-90km/h.

Com­mit­tee chair Hugh Ver­coe has writ­ten to As­so­ci­ate Min­is­ter of Trans­port Julie Anne Gen­ter and Govern­ment, ask­ing they to act quickly to bring the nec­es­sary changes that will al­low coun­cils to more eas­ily change their speed lim­its as part of ef­forts to re­duce the num­ber of deaths on Waikato roads.

The com­mit­tee voted unan­i­mously to seek govern­ment sup­port to re­duce the speed limit on all Waikato coun­cil-owned roads to 80-90km/h, to en­sure safe and ap­pro­pri­ate travel speeds de­pend­ing on the con­fig­u­ra­tion of the road.

Yes­ter­day the com­mit­tee also en­dorsed the 2018 up­date to the Re­gional Land Trans­port Plan 2015-2045, which in­cludes the de­vel­op­ment of a re­gional speed man­age­ment plan.

“We have adopted a zero road fa­tal­ity tar­get — re­duc­ing speed lim­its is an im­por­tant part of this and we are seek­ing your sup­port to make this hap­pen,” said Hugh.

The Waikato re­gion has the worst sta­tis­tics in New Zealand for road deaths and se­ri­ous in­juries, mak­ing up 20 per cent of na­tional ca­su­al­ties each year.

Con­sid­er­ing dis­tances trav­elled, the re­gion has 18 per cent more deaths and se­ri­ous in­juries than the na­tional av­er­age and 70 per cent of these are on open roads with speed lim­its of 100km/h.

Be­tween 2013 and 2017, fa­tal­i­ties al­most dou­bled. Given this trend, more than 60 peo­ple will die on our re­gional road net­work this year, and 372 peo­ple will suf­fer se­ri­ous in­juries.

“The Speed Man­age­ment Guide and NZ Trans­port Agency anal­y­sis shows that more than 80 per cent of Waikato’s ru­ral roads have speed lim­its higher than what is safe,” said Hugh.

“A lot of our ru­ral roads are windy and nar­row and you couldn’t drive 100km/h on them any­way.”

“We want to make sure that the speed limit matches the drive­abil­ity of a road. The set speed lim­its do not al­ways re­flect the risk.”

■ Half of fa­tal crashes and 29 per cent of se­ri­ous in­jury crashes are the re­sult of reck­less be­hav­iour, while the rest are due to mak­ing a mis­tak­ing or in­ex­pe­ri­ence.

■ Stud­ies show that de­creas­ing av­er­age speeds by 1 per cent re­sults in a four­fold de­crease in death and se­ri­ous in­jury crashes.

■ Lower travel speeds in­crease a driver’s ef­fec­tive field of view. This gives a driver more time to re­act to a hazard, thereby avoid­ing or re­duc­ing the sever­ity of a crash.

■ Speed af­fects the out­come of ev­ery crash, re­gard­less of the cause, and ex­ces­sive or in­ap­pro­pri­ate speeds make out­comes worse.

■ The sweet spot for fuel con­sump­tion is be­tween 80-90km/h in a mod­ern, fuel-ef­fi­cient car.

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