Push to re­duce ru­ral speed limit

Hamilton News - - Front Page -

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 chair­man Hugh Ver­coe has writ­ten to As­so­ciate Min­is­ter of Trans­port Julie Anne Gen­ter, ask­ing the Govern­ment 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.

On June 11, 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.

At the Mon­day meet­ing, 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.

The Waikato Re­gional Trans­port Com­mit­tee com­prises may­ors or del­e­gates from the re­gion’s ter­ri­to­rial au­thor­i­ties, Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil and the NZ Trans­port Agency.

It also in­cludes the Waikato road polic­ing man­ager, who doesn’t have vot­ing power.

“We in the Waikato are com­mit­ted to rev­ers­ing the steady in­crease in the rate of fa­tal­i­ties on our roads,” Mr Ver­coe said in his let­ter to Ms Gen­ter.

“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.”

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 100kmh.

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.

Mr Ver­coe, who at­tended the Lo­cal Govern­ment Road Safety Sum­mit in Welling­ton in April, said the as­so­ciate trans­port min­is­ter needs to con­sider re­duc­ing de­fault speeds of 100km/h on the lo­cal road­ing net­work to align with the na­tional Speed Man­age­ment Guide.

“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,” Mr Ver­coe said.

“A lot of our ru­ral roads are windy and nar­row and you couldn’t drive 100kmh 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.”

We in the Waikato are com­mit­ted to rev­ers­ing the steady in­crease in the rate of fa­tal­i­ties on our roads.

Hugh Ver­coe

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