This is a guest post from Bevan Woodward

NZTA is updating the country’s speed limit setting rule, but is unwilling to put New Zealanders’ safety first.

New Zealand’s road toll is by high international standards and is particularly bad for our most vulnerable road users. In the last 12 months, 37 pedestrians and 10 cyclists have been killed on NZ roads, that’s a 60% increase over the previous 12 months.

The key issue is that NZTA continues to require that speed limits be a compromise between safety and efficiency. This has resulted in New Zealand having the highest traffic speeds amongst OECD nations.

Countries such as Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, Norway and Denmark have urban and rural speed limits lower that New Zealand; a key reason why their road deaths per capita are half ours. And instead of reducing efficiency, it can be argued their safer speeds improve efficiency due to fewer crashes, intersections that flow more smoothly, and more people feeling safe to choose walking and cycling.

We can save lives in New Zealand by reducing traffic speeds, to quote Auckland Transport ‘Speed is the single biggest road safety issue in NZ today.’

Hence we’re urging NZTA to amend their draft Setting of Speed Limits rule to require speed limits that are “safe as is reasonably practicable given the road function, design, users and the surrounding land use”. This aligns with NZ’s Health and Safety in the Workplace legislation, NZTA’s Speed Management Guide, and help reduce our appalling road toll.

I encourage you to make a quick submission by email to [email protected] by 5pm, Friday, June 16

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  1. What a load of tripe.

    The major difference between New Zealand and Europe is the quality of the roading. Yet this blog continues to oppose each and every roading improvement! The above speed comparison is like comparing apples with oranges. Why not compare the autobahn speed limit with New Zealand motorway limits? Cherry picking information and presenting it as per above makes this blog look like a schoolboy operation.

    The AT quote is a beauty. That organisation is the single biggest contributor to congestion in this city and the lack of roading safety. AT has no ideas outside of destroying roading efficiency and inducing congestion which makes roads more dangerous for everyone.

    I’ll also note that in some situations reducing speed limits can increase the risk of accident. The North Western motorway is a prime example. Every driver with a brain can see it should be a 100kmph area. Every driver with no idea does 80kmph. The result is drivers traveling at different speeds which creates a dangerous situation for road users. I’ve seen more near misses since this limit was introduced than I had seen in the previous decade.

    It would be interesting to delve deeper into the pedestrian/cycle stats to see if it was a rogue year, which party was at fault and the role that changing road environments for the purpose on non-vehicle users has on the psychology of users. We see often on this blog the arrogance and faux moral superiority that contributors and commenters regularly exhibit. Could that be a factor in these deaths?

    1. So you are saying that the problem on the NW motorway is the people obeying the speed limit (80kmh) getting in the way of those not obeying it by driving at 100kmh.

      This blog has advocated regularly spending more on wider State Highway safety improvements as opposed to big ticket RONS that only improve safety for small stretches of highway.

    2. Every person with any understanding of road safety can see that this should be 80 or lower and the people who still choose to speed are literally killing people.

        1. I think you will find it is pretty common overseas for motorways to have lower speed limits around key interchanges where there will be large amounts of lane changing.

          There are some places though that just don’t make sense – southbound on the Newmarket viaduct being one.

        2. You don’t see how the Newmarket Viaduct fits the bill you described above with Greenlane, Gillies Ave and thee CMJ as the “key interchanges where there will be large amounts of lane changing.”?

        3. Gillies and CMJ have nothing to do with it as I quite clearly referred to southbound on the Newmarket viaduct.

          Greenlane could be an issue, but if that is the case then why is the limit raised to 100kmh just after you leave the viaduct at least a kilometre before the GL off-ramp let alone the GL on-ramp.

        4. In New Zealand you can’t have different speed limits in different directions on the same road (I agree that it is ridiculous). Even so, I would still keep the viaduct at 80. It’s so close to the CMJ and Gillies that a lot of vehicles are still selecting the correct lane, such as people coming from the NW or N motorway who need to exit at Greenlane who are in conflict with those who came on at Gillies, but don’t want to come off at Greenlane. For example, I often come on from the N motorway and can’t safely enter the left lane to take the Greenlane exit until I’m already on the viaduct.

        5. I think having different speed limits in different directions on the same road makes sense where there is no median barrier and there is a risk of a head on collision. However on the motorway you are essentially talking about two different sections of road so there should be room for compromise.

        6. There’s a short section of George Bolt Memorial Drive between the shopping centre and Verissimo Drive that is 60kmh northbound and 50kmh southbound. I suspect you are right SB that this is strictly not legal, but it is clear that it can be snuck under the radar.

        7. Why should an inner urban motorway support 100km/h? The few that exist in Europe don’t.

          And yes, the UK’s top motorway speed limit is a whopping 2.4% higher than ours.

        8. 100%*(1 – 112.6/110) = 2.4%

          I know we haven’t technically changed the law yet, but it’s basically there.

        9. 100%*(1 – 112.6/110) = 2.4%

          So you factor in that Kiwi’s speed but ignore the fact that most traffic on the UK motorways in travelling (when congestion permits) at around 90 m.p.h

          There’s a whole host of reasons why NZ’s road toll is unacceptably high but traffic travelling at more than 80 kph on urban motorways would be well done the list.

          Agree that 50 is way too high for a lot of urban roads but like so many other factors that’s down to driver behaviour as much as anything else.

          Enforcement of things like red light running priority lanes and speed limits would eventually lead to an attitudinal change on the part of drivers and would be much cheaper than re-engineering rural roads.

        10. “So you factor in that Kiwi’s speed”

          No, I’m factoring in that the law is probably going to change.

          “Enforcement of things like red light running priority lanes and speed limits would eventually lead to an attitudinal change on the part of drivers and would be much cheaper than re-engineering rural roads.”

          Do you have a citation for this? Or perhaps you could name a country or region that has succeeded with this approach? Until then I’d rather copy Sweden and engineer death and serious injury out of rural roads by minimising the occurrence of high risk crash types and reducing the risk of the crashes that do still occur.

          “There’s a whole host of reasons why NZ’s road toll is unacceptably high but traffic travelling at more than 80 kph on urban motorways would be well done the list.”

          It’s well down the list because we already set the speed limit to 80km/h on inner urban motorways, in line with best practice speed management from around the world.

        11. Apples with apples Sailor Boy – posted speed limit compared to posted speed limit. Not the quasi 10kph “tolerance” that may sometimes be allowed by NZ police (tickets can and are still issued going 1-9kph above the posted limit).

        12. The speed limits in NZ do need to be changed. They should lower speeds around schools and increase them on the motorway and highways.
          The stats presented in this post are misleading. The speed limits in Finland – a country with similar roads to NZ, but with much worse weather, are 50kph urban, and between 80-100kph on highways. The motorway speed limit is 120kph.
          The highways in the UK, where the speed limit is 60-80kph are on mostly single track lanes. The comparable roads to NZ are usually 100kph. Many roads in built up areas of the UK – londons A40 is 65kph and that is in the built up suburbs. Of course in Germany there are parts of the motorway system where there are no limits.
          Did you know how the UK came to having a 70mph speed limit on the A1? It was after complaints of racing teams using the M1 at night for practise for Le Mans. The year was 1964 and the speeds of an AC Cobra were 183mph. Government got upset and they introduced 70mph, based on the stopping distance of the cars available at the time.
          Do you not think that a 2017 BMW might have a shorter stopping distance than a Ford Anglia???
          The problem in NZ is not the speed, it is the appalling low standard of Kiwi drivers. This is not restricted to race, whilst many Asians may be challenged to park in Northcote shopping centre, it is the Maori and Pakeha alpha males that drive like fluffy bunnies.
          Driving at 200kph on the southern motorway (I am not suggesting it) is infinitely safer than driving through a red light at 30kph. The Motorway, is more or less a straight road where all the traffic is going in one direction and not stopping. A red light for you means it is green for someone else.
          Without a doubt, I would be the best skilled driver on this forum and I can tell you, there is nothing wrong with NZ roads. We should be quite able to drive at speeds of 110 kph on motorways and highways (It’s the painfully slow pit lane speed limit in F1). What we need to stop are red light runners, overtaking on blind dips and corners, driving while drunk/drugged, texting, reading books (I was on a Bus where the driver was reading his Kindle) and all the other nonsense Kiwi’s get up too.
          Cyclists also need to put a hand up and claim some ownership to the death toll. They are notorious for running lights, pulling out in front of traffic and ignoring all rules. Lycra is not an invincible suit. Peds also need to take care. Look both ways before leaving the pavement!
          If those reading this post were really in favour of lowering the road toll and not just another protest against cars, they would be pressing Government for a harder driving licence test, bigger fines for transgressions, more red light cameras and recognisable number plates on cycles.
          Lowering the speed limit on dead straight roads is likely to cause more accidents as it just causes boredom, a feeling of safety and will create more 50-50 overtaking.

        13. “The Motorway, is more or less a straight road where all the traffic is going in one direction and not stopping”

          Not stopping!? I find that a most extraordinary statement from one with such prodigious driving skills. No, come to think of it, the more correct term is total bollocks. Traffic stops on the Southern motorway…frequently. Your hypothetical 200 km/h infinitely-safe motorist would be hypothetically dead along with several not-so-hypothetical ordinary people with their sub-prodigious skills.

        14. Without a doubt you are the best skilled mansplainer on this forum.

          I’d like to say you are also the best skilled bigoted racist on this forum too, but sadly that might actually not be true…

        15. A motorway is designed for fast flowing traffic. In theory, there should never be a need to apply your brakes and hardly a need to turn the steering wheel. There are a lot of our motorway where a modern car could safely travel at 200mph. Clearly, as I said, I am not recommending that.
          I wonder though, why do you not address the points I make – about speed not being the primary cause of accidents, bad driving is? That debate would seem a lot more productive than almost calling me racist.
          In a friendly gesture – I’m happy to teach you some car skills xx

        16. “There are a lot of our motorway where a modern car could safely travel at 200mph”

          You best tell the people who have spent years developing geometric standards for roads that they are completely wrong and that a car can safely merger with 200 mph traffic at the end of a 300 m long onramp.

    3. Matthew – I’d encourage you to send in your comments to the NZTA – they need to have feedback from both sides.

      1. It’s also important to note that New Zealand only has about 40 km of rural motorways, and the longest section is less than 20km long, so if one wanted to compare to the autobahn it would be a very small comparison.

    4. Can he just be banned? Opposing points of view are fine, but all the “what a load of tripe”, “anyone with a brain”, “a schoolboy operation”, “arrogance and faux moral superiority” comments are deliberately inflammatory, simply insulting and make the comments section an unpleasant place to be.

        1. The only posts I have complained about are those that clearly violated the terms and conditions of this site. We could have a whole debate about the moderators lack of understanding of their own terms and conditions but I’ll refrain.

        2. And your post didn’t? Particularly:
          4. Ad hom…
          5. General moaning…
          Appears you like to dish it out, but can’t handle …

    5. “We see often on this blog the arrogance and faux moral superiority that contributors and commenters regularly exhibit. Could that be a factor in these deaths?”

      Given that the NZTA found that motorists were exclusively at fault in 4/6 cyclist deaths and at least partially at fault in deaths of 1/6, I’d say that the faux moral superiority that commenters regularly exhibit when they express animosity to cyclists may well be contributing to these deaths, just not in the way that you imagine.

  2. The Real Mathphew hasn’t come up with a better suggestion, so is obviously happy that 47 people have been killed on our roads, just so long as as he can rush round in his tin box just that much faster………………..
    Talk about self righteous…………..

    1. Of course I’m not happy that 47 have died. What a disgusting comment.

      We need to delve deeper. Automatically assuming that drivers are in the wrong in each and every instance is unhelpful.

      1. I take you think the fault for the tragic fire in London yesterday lies with the person who owned the faulty refrigerator or it’s manufacturer. I think most people would see it as the building design as it managed to see a relatively minor problem into an extremely serious one.

        Same goes for roads – people make mistakes, a good system is designed so those mistakes are not fatal irrespective of who is at fault.

      2. Automatically ignoring physics – as you seem to – is unhelpful.

        Btw, why bring up motorways? Not in original post. Attempt at diversion & outrage?

  3. Excellent news. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. The local boards will be interested too, I’m sure, as I believe they too have called for lower speed limits on urban roads, and had AT refuse.

    NZ’s terrible figures in pedestrian safety reflect the fact that our roading authorities aren’t even monitoring it properly, so engineers have no data to go by when they design for safety. As traffic engineer Burdett writes:

    “If Road Controlling Authorities work together to gather pedestrian volume data across a range of
    intersection and midblock crossing types, these data can be aggregated to better inform risk
    calculations. Technology such as video-recognition and combining manual surveys with automatic
    detection may help to bring survey costs down. RCAs can then use the aggregated data, combined
    with their own assessment of need in communities for safe, accessible road crossings, ultimately
    for the benefit of all New Zealanders.”

    But when AT won’t change speed limits or put in zebra crossings because they will impede the flow of traffic, we know it’s not just a lack of data; it’s a focus on cars before people.

    And that has to change.

    1. Cars are not autonomous yet – it might shock you but there are people in them too. This false ‘cars vs. people’ dichotomy is why people tune out the instant a 30kmh speed limit is mentioned, despite the evidence in its favour.

      1. and they are people who I care about deeply. But their serious injury and death rates are coming down due to good auditing and design, whereas those for non-motorised users are not. By designing for people, not cars, you design for all people, including the ones in cars, and including the ones who have been ignored by the auditing and design process.

  4. And yet the North Western is now set to 80 km/hr from Newton Rd.
    Easy curves, premium seal, fully marked, multi laned to 4 lanes each way at least, break down strips mostly on both sides, overhead warning lights, robust modern barriers and excellent lighting.

    But a country road, a lane each way and a painted line, 100 k’s.
    Go figure NZTA’s warped logic!

    You have to be careful saying speed is always to blame. I am all too aware having worked around the crash area that speed is a go to automatically but it’s usually other factors at work. There is no exacting definition of causes of crashes at times but if a vehicle is moving forward speed has to figure.

    And I might add road safety campaigns have dried up under this government as has law enforcement. Got to pay for those tax cuts somehow!

    1. I agree blaming speed without going further to determine how the accident happened is not always helpful. Speed in and of itself is never the problem. Speed combined with 1 or more other factors very often is. e.g. speed combined with poor road design, speed combined with an error of judgment, speed combined with a road hazard, speed combined with a driver distraction etc.
      There are a large number of other factors that when combined with speed can lead to an accident. Controlling for every possible factor would be near impossible. But controlling for speed can be greatly improved by lowering the speed limit. This creates a buffer so when some thing goes wrong there is time for corrective action, plus if there is a collision the consequences are less likely to be fatal.

  5. We could reduce speed limit to most urban and suburban town centres, similar to Ponsonby.

    Lower vehicle speed reduce road noise, emission, engine noise. That will improve the environment of people walking on the street.

    Examples are streets that have shops on both side and high number of pedestrians. Such as:

    City, K road, Parnell, New market, Mt eden village, Remuera, mission bay, glen Innes, panmure, onehunga, dominion road, mount Albert, pt chevalier.

    1. To be fair Kelvin the first 7 areas you mention are almost impossible to get anywhere near the limit anyhow, most times.

      1. +1, so we may as well make the limit 30 all the time. That way the 10% of motorists who would benefit by keeping the speed limit at 50 are the only ones adversely affected, and everyone else is positively affected.

  6. totally support making the speed limit 30 km/h everywhere on the isthmus and 60 to 80km/h on the b roads. And enforcing it. There should be no fudge factor, no grace because you are ‘only’ doing 35 km/h. The WHO figures showing an exponential increase in risk of death above 30km/h are based on real speeds, not speed limits.

  7. Even motorways should be 80km/h.

    The autobahn always quoted as being safe. However, really they are not that safe in relation to how well designed they are. “A 2008 report by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) found that of the 645 road deaths in Germany in 2006, 67% occurred on on motorway sections without limits and 33% on stretches with a permanent limit. ” “Using the most widely accepted statistical model, drawn up by a Norwegian academic using data from 100 studies in more than a dozen countries, an increase in average traffic speeds of just 3mph – a typical change for a 10mph rise – would be expected to cause more than 25 extra deaths a year on motorways and more than 100 serious injuries.”

    1. Rather than quoting the Autobahn I think we’d be better looking at a similar roading system to New Zealand. I suggest British Columbia in Canada is a good one. It sees more extreme weather conditions than New Zealand, travels through similar (varied) terrain, and has a variety of roads from excellent modern 4 lane divided highways through highways with unsealed sections and single lane bridges, and services a sparse population across a large area. The speed limits range considerably with maximum at 120km/hr for suitable roads, and some highways posted at 80km/hr (or lower through towns).
      The interesting thing is that following the speed increase to 120km/hr on two sections of highway the 85th percentile speed had not changed, and accidents/accident outcomes haven’t significantly changed. I believe that getting a speed limit appropriate to the road has a huge impact on how the road and drivers perform. This is also true for roads within cities, as has been shown on this blog by examples in the Netherlands that if the road design is right then traffic will move at the lower speed. Just putting up reduced speed signs leads to highly variable speeds and reckless driving, which I’m not sure will lead to the safety improvements that should hopefully be achievable.

  8. When it comes to cars the authors so correct. Physics rules. Given that it is motorists who are killing pedestrians and cyclists, they must reduce their momentum to a safe level.

    1. Following typical safety assessments the order for dealing with hazards should be elimination > separation > minimization > warning. For roads separation (better infrastructure) would be more effective than minimization (lower speed limits). As a note an example of eliminating the hazard to cyclists and pedestrians is motorways where they are not allowed access. At the other end warning is things such as cyclists having reflectors.

      1. Or a method of gauging their own speed, perhaps? If you’re going to make your speed limit 30kmh then a lot of cyclists are going to be breaking that speed limit.

      2. Agree, so where separation is not possible in an urban environment full of pedestrians and cyclists, the speed limit should be minimized.

  9. When we manage to reduce the road fatality and serious-injury rates to zero, is the time to start considering raising speed limits. Not before then.

  10. Time saving between driving 10Km at 100Km/h instead of 80Km/h = 1½ minutes.
    Very hard to justify the more-costly roading design to safely allow this, in a country as sparsely-populated as NZ.
    Unless you’re a boy-racer with control over the country’s finances, like the Hon Steven Joyce.

  11. I see that there are many times posts where comparisons are made with the UK and European roads. Having driven on both and on the roads here I see a number of differences in design, in speeds and their enforcement which when taken together have a material effect on fatalities and injuries (both to car users, cycalists and pedestrians).

    On the design issue, there are a number of road junctions with designs across the Auckland road network which are less than initiative. This can only cause the unfamiliar driver to loose concentration as they try to work out the correct route / direction or decipher the signage, this has the potential to increase risk.

    Then there are the slip roads off of some of the 100kph roads which are extremely short and end with a 25kph corner. Again which has the potential to increase risk.

    Finally there’s the lack of applicable speeds. Many parts of Auckland are residential and as such the max speed should be 30kph to recognise that children and families live in these areas and that an accident at 50 will kill.

    On single carriageway rural roads the speeds should be no more than 70kph which would be more appropriate than 100, recognising that not every road user is in a car or truck.

    In both cases there is a need for proper enforcement to ensure that the limits are respected.

  12. I would say 30 in the city, 40 on suburban streets and shopping areas, 50 on arterials, 90 on most open roads, 100 on the really good open roads and 120 on the expressways outside cities.

  13. Does anyone else think it is strange that the proposed rule says any proposed speed limit change must be run by:

    (e) the chief executive of the New Zealand Automobile Association Incorporated; and
    (f) the chief executive of the Road Transport Forum New Zealand; and

    Besides government, there are no other groups that must be consulted before making any changes.

    Given these two have very focussed purposes that I would say do not reflect the intent of the rule to improve safety one has to wonder why they are given special treatment inshrined in our national rules.

    1. Submission point #1 right there. I can’t quite believe they are the only formally identified external consultation group…

  14. If we applied workplace h&s standards to our roads there would be some changes. I cant imagine any industry being able to kill a jumbo jets worth of people annually in perpetuity

    1. If a risk matrix approach is applied then the combination of hazard and frequency of road incidents results in a risk too high to be acceptable. As such the activity(driving) should not be undertaken. I have worked for companies that have come to this conclusion and then had to ignore it as without driving to sites the company wouldn’t exist.

  15. Compromising safety and efficiency is surely illegal under the HSWA. It would be good if there was a test case on this.

    1. Then all speed limits should be applied such that the maximum speed won’t result in death, about 10 to 20km/hr? Or maybe slower? Practicalities of life result in some level of acceptable risk, what level that is says a lot about the society.

      1. Yes, think how people of 120 years ago would be delighted to have our cars and roads. For them, to be able to go smoothly and safely at a limit of 20 km/hr would seem a big step forward.

        Pity we’re always greedy for more, especially at the coast of lives.

        1. In fairness people 120 years ago would dream of the life expectancy. Road accidents are about the only area of our lives that are more dangerous than they were 120 years ago.

      2. The health and safety act uses the phrase “reasonably practicable”
        10-20km/h probably isn’t. But 30km/h in an urban environment probably is.

        1. “Reasonably practicable” is a reflection of society, not just one group. There is certainly an argument for 30km/h as there are for speeds faster (why not 35 or 40, wouldn’t they still be much safer than 50?) and slower (is 20 or 25 going to really cost you significant time for residential roads?). As per the post: you should be making your voice heard via a submissionsas to what you believe that to be, as should everyone else.

        2. If you look at the graph behind the title of this post it’s pretty obvious why 30 km/h is chosen.

  16. Here’s a novel idea – how about the cops start actually policing the roads by pulling over motorists (and cyclists) for bad driving. Most accidents are the result of bad driving, whilst speed is just another side issue – why get all emotive about it? I’ve heard many times that “kiwis love their cars” which is one of those BS slogans that fools love to throw at you when discussing transport options. BS because if you loved cars, you would bother to learn how to drive them correctly. Very few in this country drive correctly. Just think how low the road toll would be if the police prosecuted the morons who pull out in front of you on high speed roads, or the morons that can’t be *rsed to put their lights on at night in rain or in fog, or the morons that swing to the outside of passing lanes but don’t try passing anything, or the morons that won’t overtake in safe conditions, or the morons that overtake at inappropriate locations (often the same people), or the morons that manoeuvre without signalling, or the morons that think it’s ok to randomly swing onto the wrong side of road as it’s only a country road. Phew, and that’s without covering traffic signals, roundabouts or T2 lanes.

    Eliminate these behaviours by vigilant policing plus CCTV and appropriate sentencing and you will eliminate the road toll, there is no point in obsessing about speed.

    1. +100. While the quality of NZ roads in general are inferior to counties with lower fatalities, the driving standards in New Zealand are terrible. Regulated driving schools with rigorous and mandatory, qualified instruction is required to make a real change to the toll. If roads are populated with skilled, defensive drivers, nearly all the “speed kills” video money can be spent on improving roads.

      1. Why not start with a simple requirement for people to pass a written test when they renew their driver’s license. It could be offered online, as well as in store, to keep the process quick. Laws covering motor vehicle use change, yet people that did their test 40 years ago have never been retested.

    2. In the meantime, poor driving conditions (poor driver skill, bad etiquette, narrow roads) are a given. Reducing speed gives slightly more reaction time and reduces the amount of damage in the case of an incident. We just need to get on with it.

    3. Very difficult to enforce most of those examples, unless you’re advocating a huge increase in police resources being used for traffic enforcement. Police cannot be at every intersection waiting for someone to not indicate.
      Humans are exactly that, humans. Only takes a moments slip in concentration or focus and an accident can happen. Reducing the speed limit at least has the immediate impact of perhaps reducing the severity of an impact or crash, or giving the driver the extra split second in time to react to a situation.
      I agree that driver education and enforcement make a large difference, but they are an expensive way of achieving the same goals (reduced death and injuries on roads).

    4. While I agree it is bad driving that causes accidents not a specific speed, there is a big difference between prosecuting someone and an infringement.

      A prosecution requires a significant amount of evidence to be gathered, witnesses etc, an infringement just requires and observation by an officer or a piece of calibrated equipment. The resource tied up with a prosecution, especially gathering evidence means there would be relatively few each year, so the chances of getting caught would be low, not much of a deterrent.

      I take it you call the police every time you see this sort of thing, every bit of evidence helps with a prosecution.

      Also you can have a ‘perfect’ driver doing 120kmh but their ‘perfection’ isn’t much use if someone else makes a mistake and pulls out in front of them.

    5. Human beings will always make mistakes. Designing local roads so that lower speeds are the norm is a great way of making sure those mistakes don’t end up in a fatal consequence.

      Speed is a factor in 100% of traffic crashes, so addressing speed is the main issue. If everyone drove at 30km/h on all local roads, we would likely have zero deaths. Simple as that as modern cars can pretty much stop on a dime at that speed. Bet then anything over 30 km/h must be justified as to how much death we are willing to accept.

      Obviously, dual carriage motorways are exempt from this. Where it is only motor vehicles and no other road user is allowed, have at it. Separated dual carriage motorways have a fantastic safety record – partly by just excluding the most vulnerable road users, pedestrians and cyclists.

  17. It needs to be remembered that a speed limit is just the maximum speed on a section of road. You need to drive to the conditions. Yes there are sections of open road where you could never drive at the limit. But if you start to apply the logic that because of this you need to apply a lower limit everywhere it is avoiding the issue of poor driving skill. I see far more instances of potentially deadly accidents caused by drivers who are doing 65kmh in a 100kmh zone and do not seem to have spatial awareness. You also get those people who insist on doing 20kmh below the limit even with perfect conditions and runway like roading leading to frustration. In East Auckland we have experimented with raising the main road speeds to 60kmh. The side roads are still 50. It could be argued if you go to 30 or 40 for side roads that this 60 limit on main roads would be a better compromise. There are also areas that go from 50 to 70 to 80 back to 70 seemingly arbitrarily. You can often pass through without noticing you need to go 10kmh less or what the extra hazard you are avoiding by doing so. So perhaps more consistent speeds across areas and more signage. Compared to 20 years ago I do not see much speeding on the open road. I have found our rural roads to be well engineered and I think limits are about right. You cannot always legislate for the lowest common denominator. What we are saying is we do not properly train our drivers to make good choices therefore we will lower the energy of crashes. Seems a bit of a cop out. Unfortunately having almost collected two pedestrians recently with ear buds in and looking at their phones it may be time to lower urban limits.

  18. I stick to my idea that a vehicle’s top allowed speed should be proportional to its energy potential. Cars 80, Motorbikes 120, Trucks 70 or less. I find appalling that trucks are allowed 100kph speed limits with braking distances on the 100s of meters and teh destruction potential they carry with them. Even if it’s not the truck driver’s fault a road accident shouldn’t be sure death for a potential mistake made by another road user.

    1. of course “professional” truck drivers should be intelligent enough to drive their rigs to the conditions and slow down in built up areas taking in consideration their inherent dangerousness. I see daily big rigs speed through red lights in Quay st. Never seen a policemen.

    2. The speed limit for all vehicles over 3.5 tonnes is 90km/h, not 100km/h. But i completely agree it should be even lower.

      I can’t believe my eyes when I see container trucks on Quay Street or Customs Street. How lost are they to end up there? I can never think of any pair of destination and origin for which that is even close to the best route for a truck. This is yet another reason that Quay Street needs to be reduced to one lane each way and 30km/h.

    3. With the proposal to raise the speed limit to 110 on some motorways/expressways, will this apply to light vehicles only? Or will trucks be allowed to do that speed?

  19. Thanks to Bevan for raising awareness about this issue. I’ve submitted the following on behalf of the Waitematā Local Board.


    The Board represents over 100,000 residents in Auckland’s city centre and central suburbs. The Board is committed to an accessible, connected and safe transport network with well-designed streets.

    Road deaths and serious injuries have increased in Auckland by 56% from 354 in 2012 to 547 in 2016 with vulnerable road users making up almost 60% of that increase. Speed is a factor in all road crashes. Urgent changes are needed to speed limits to make our roads safer, more liveable, more vibrant and more efficient.

    The Board supports improving safety for all road users and advocates for:
    • Adoption of a target of zero serious injuries or deaths on our roads as part of a comprehensive safe systems approach to road safety including safe road design, enforcement, safer speeds and driver education
    • Implementation of slower traffic speed zones in the city centre and residential areas and through town centres


    The Board supports the update to the Setting Speed Limits Rule consistent with the Safe System approach to road safety. Any changes must allow for flexibility to set speeds using local knowledge.

    The Board requests that local boards, as representatives of the community, have a key role in setting speeds. The Board wishes to work with NZTA, Auckland Transport and the RCA to proactively review all speed limits within the Waitematā Local Board area.

    The Board is concerned that NZTA continues to require that speed limits be ‘safe and appropriate’ and that NZTA defines ‘appropriate’ as ‘optimising efficiency outcomes’, which NZTA then defines as ‘economic productivity’. This creates a flawed trade-off between safety and speed, because it results in dangerous roads with no evidence of increased efficiency nor economic productivity.

    The Board therefore requests that:

    • NZTA, in updating the speed limit rule, adopts a “safety first” approach for the setting of speed limits. The safety first approach is consistent within the safe systems approach to road safety supported by NZ Police, Auckland Transport and NZTA and will bring NZ in line with international best practice.
    • the requirement for ‘safe and appropriate’ speed limits be changed to a requirement for speed limits that are ‘as safe as is reasonably practicable given the road function, design, users and the surrounding land use’.

  20. One speed limit that is ignored by most drivers that are supposed to be professionals is the 90km/hr maximum speed for heavy vehicles and vehicles towing trailers.

    Don’t you enjoy being tailgated by a truck-trailer unit speed-wobbling at 105km/hr on the southern motorway?

    European motorways, autobahns, peage and autostrada mainly have a 130km/hr limit for cars. The limit is 100km/hr for trucks. This heavy vehicle limit is enforced by the automatic logging devices required in heavy trucks in Europe which police can check hours later. Heavy instant fines are charged for logged speeding. Trucks there are required to leave the left lane (the fast lane) clear in many places and almost always where there are 3 lanes. Truck convoys do occur on the right lane on steeper multi-lane road throughout Europe. The trucks just grind along and leave the left lane for cars. Wish it happened at Bombay……Where trucks overtake in Europe the drivers have to consider the speed difference and usually signal well in advance and only when the next lane is clear. Aggressive truck drivers are hooted at and have headlights flashed at them by car drivers far more than timid NZ car drivers would consider polite.

    I suspect these limits and their enforcement are one of the reasons why European roads are safer than New Zealand. You know you can pass a truck rapidly if you are driving a car on a peage. This reduces the chances of cars being pushed physically and psychologically by a speeding truck driver.

    A police campaign just to slow trucks down to their legal maximum in NZ would likely be just as effective in saving lives as a campaign to slow all drivers.

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