The Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2021 is under consultation. Submissions close tomorrow at 5 pm.

We’re slowly seeing some reductions in speed limits in places, along with nice education material from Auckland Transport.

Meanwhile far too little enforcement means some drivers are showing very little regard for safety and for others on or near the road.

In New Zealand, discussions about speed limits often seem to be focused on fairness to drivers. For some, the highest consideration seems to be ensuring a driver can’t possibly be blamed for driving too fast. If a driver can see a lot of road, and speeds up, or if a corner’s radius is set to allow a driver to turn without slowing much, for example. Unless the environment is telling the driver what speed to drive at – without any ambiguity – some people claim it’s understandable to drive too fast for other people’s safety. Any ambiguity, it seems, must not leave the driver at risk of blame.

Or else they’re focused on fairness to business. That above all else, drivers ought to drive at the highest possible speed that’s safe, so as not to hold anybody up, and everyone around them need to be alert at all times to keep themselves safe, in order to honour the needs of the economy. Time is the stuff life is made of, but it seems we only value it when cut up into chunks called travel time.

It’s weird, really, given the extraordinary number of lives of people we love who are lost forever. Families ripped apart, with scars left for generations, just because the system is set up to let people drive too fast.

There exists, of course, an entirely different set of values we can adopt.

https://twitter.com/JillWarrenECF/status/1391841036964712450?s=09

We do need to aspire to a road and street layout that makes the speed intuitive for drivers. But how long will such changes to the built environment take? The Planning Committee at Council is today deciding whether to endorse the $36 billion business-as-usual RLTP. If we want an intuitive street layout, they must reject the plan and start over. They must assert that it fails to give effect to the GPS’s key strategic priorities of improving safety (at the pace required) and moving rapidly towards a low carbon transport system.

But even if they do the decent thing and send the whole plan back to the drawing board so we can jumpstart a new paradigm, it will take decades to repair the streets of this broken city, and the roads of this systematically unsafe country.

What do we do in the meantime? We need to discuss speed limits like adults, which means focusing on fairness to children. Children need safe speeds for their development, based on what they can be expected to understand and remember and judge – as they run, scoot, cycle, play and move freely around their environments.

Anyone who has sufficient mental ability to drive a car can be expected to understand safe speeds. They can be expected to drive slowly enough to be able to stop at a moment’s notice. Slowly enough to use their peripheral vision well, so that if children on bikes swerve off a footpath or out of a cycleway through sheer lack of coordination or silliness, they’ll survive. People privileged enough to be in charge of an amazing piece of engineering like a vehicle can be expected to respect the science. And the science says that in cities, towns, or anywhere else children can be expected to be – like outside rural schools – the safe speed limit is no more than 30 km/hr.

Tomorrow, submissions are due on the Setting of Speed Limits Rule 2021.

It’s time for a new paradigm for how we set speed limits.

Children at the Otaki Children’s Health Camp, playing dead in a street, to simulate 32 child deaths on New Zealand Roads, Evening Post, 1957. (Ref: EP/1957/3800-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand) – thanks to Bike Auckland.

The summary and overview says:

On 11 November 2019, Cabinet agreed to the wider Tackling Unsafe Speeds package, which comprises:

  • introducing a new regulatory framework for speed management to improve how speed management changes are planned for, consulted on and implemented
  • transitioning to lower speed limits around schools to improve safety and encourage more children to use active modes of transport
  • adopting a new approach to road safety cameras (also referred to as ‘speed cameras’) to reduce excessive speeds on our highest risk roads…

Speed continues to be a major contributing factor to deaths and serious injuries on New Zealand roads. Evidence shows travelling too fast for the conditions is consistently one of the highest contributing factors in fatal and serious injury crashes. In the event of a crash, regardless of cause, the speed on impact is the most important determinant of the severity of injuries sustained and the probability of death.

The current process for setting speed limits under the 2017 Rule has been costly and inefficient. It has led to poorly coordinated speed limit changes across the network that often lack infrastructure changes. It has also caused some RCAs to delay or avoid making speed management changes due to uncertainty around when and how to amend, replace or revoke current speed limits, as well as on when to consult on speed limit changes.

The summary of submissions on the previous rule, just four years ago, showed that “a large number of submitters” asked for lower default speed limits, and some indicated how out of step New Zealand’s speed limits are:

This request was denied, with the following reason given:

Wholesale change to the default speed limits would be a high impact change and is not considered necessary or desirable… Wholesale change arising from default speed limits would also involve significant cost.

And yet, changing the default speed limits is cheaper than changing speed limits every few streets, and we saw recently that the Ministry also argued that achieving the UN safety targets would be too expensive.

There’s a different government this time. It’s worth trying for default changes again, to get our speed limits in line with what our people need for survival.

There are many improvements in this rule. The Automobile Association and Road Transport Forum are no longer named as privileged organisations who must be consulted for every speed limit change.


But here are some questions. Would readers have the answers?

Why did the summary and overview page say the following?

International considerations: The proposed Rule is consistent with New Zealand’s international obligations in respect of land transport.

I don’t think it is. I think it ignores that if we were to follow the advice of the Stockholm Declaration, Austroads, the International Transport Forum as well as our own Road to Zero Strategy, which is formed on the basis of Vision Zero, we would recognise that speed limits should be based on the needs of the people using the environment, not just on what the driver can be blamed, or not blamed about. Ours are way too high and need changing by default.

Vision Zero speeds on wikipedia

Will consultation be streamlined at all? Speed limits are an expert matter, like aviation. Consultation is slowing the process of bringing safety to our streets to save lives. Is something better intended, that shares the burden of democracy more fairly and is more respectful of people’s ability to learn subjects to the level required to answer intelligently?

Will the benefits of planning upfront be worth it? I worry about the lack of flexibility in requiring:

all road controlling authorities that are territorial authorities (including Waka Kotahi) to include their proposed speed limit changes and safety infrastructure treatments (including proposed placement of road safety cameras) for the coming 10 years into speed management plans

Will this rule be more straightforward?

Costs of implementing the proposed changes: The new approach of creating Plans every three years will be a significant change for territorial authorities, Regional Transport Committees (RTCs) and Waka Kotahi. Under the Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2017 (2017 Rule), every speed limit (other than temporary or emergency speed limits) must be set using a bylaw, which can be a time-consuming and costly process. Under the proposed Rule, Plan development will be relatively resource intensive. However, it is anticipated once Plans have been finalised, it will be much simpler for RCAs to make changes to individual speed limits during the life of a Plan.

There will be costs for Waka Kotahi in establishing, migrating existing speed limits onto, and then operating and maintaining the Register of Land Transport Records (Register). The Register will become the single source of truth for all speed limits (other than temporary speed limits). A speed limit will become legal when it is entered into the Register (other than temporary speed limits). Most of those costs arise from the Regulations rather than the proposed Rule but have been considered in this overall policy process.


Finally, to help with your submissions, you might like to consider these points raised by others:

You can scroll within each one to read it all.

The submission of reader Robert McLachlan:

Submission on “Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2021″

Robert McLachlan
Massey University
22 June 2021

1. I acknowledge the drawbacks of the present system for the setting of speed limits and that the proposed Rule will go some distance towards creating a safer transport system.

2. Some of the deficiencies of the present system include: steadily increasing fatality rates, unacceptably high rates of death and serious injury, a slow and opaque process for reducing speed limits, noncompliance with international best practice and international agreements, and poor communication between Waka Kotahi, other road controlling authorities, and the public.

3. For example, Waka Kotahi have never replied to my enquiries as to how to get a section of state highway considered for assessment, either through the head office or the local office. A council official reported meeting with NZTA officials for decades concerning an urban section of state highway, and said that the meetings always ended with NZTA saying, “This is great, let’s keep working on this together.”

4. I am disappointed, though, that the opportunity has not been taken to ensure safe speeds in a more determined way. In particular, that
(a) there is no universal requirement to set safe and appropriate speeds;
(b) that the Austroads guidance, developed in part by New Zealand for New Zealand, is not referred to or followed (e.g., “30 km/h where there is the possibility of a collision between a vulnerable road user and a passenger vehicle. . . 70 km/h where there is the possibility of a head on collision between passenger vehicles”);
(c) that there is no reference or compliance with the Stockholm Declaration to which we are a party (“. . . mandate a maximum road travel speed of 30 km/h in areas where vulnerable road users and vehicles mix in a frequent and planned manner, except where strong evidence exists that higher speeds are safe, noting that efforts to reduce speed in general will have a beneficial impact on air quality and climate change as well as being vital to reduce road traffic deaths and injuries”);
(d) that there is no discussion or analysis of international experience with Vision Zero, the concept behind Road to Zero;
(e) that there is no range of options presented; and
(f) that some of the most important issues (discussed below) are only mentioned in passing.

Thus, overall I feel that the consultation and development of this proposed Rule has not been genuinely inclusive.

5. Schools

(a) New Zealand first trialled lower speeds outside schools in 2000. Twenty years later we are not much further on. Under the proposed rule, even by 2029 we will still have a patchwork of 30, 40, and 50 km/h limits outside schools (“use reasonable efforts. . . provide an explanation. . . ”). It could take until 2040 to fix this relatively simple and minor aspect of the speed limit system.1

(b) The language, “help encourage motorists to comply with lower speed limits” is far too soft. How about “ensure”?

(c) The rollout is too slow. Why only 40% by 30 June 2024, and most by 2029? The documents talks about speed limits in some cases and infrastructure changes in others. But there is no reason given not to impose 30 km/h limits now and plan any associated infrastructure changes later.

(d) Some reference is made to making active transport to school “appealing”, but there is no evidence that these tiny changes will help very much. This seems a bit ad hoc. Active school transport should be considered as a whole.

(e) The main reason, surely, is to improve safety. Edmonton, Canada, has a lot of experience with school zones. One study (“Are school zones effective in reducing speeds and improving safety?”, Sun, El-Basyouny, Ibrahim, and Kim, Canadian J. Civil Eng. 6 July 2018 https://doi.org/10.1139/cjce-2018-0060) found that school zones reduced deaths and injuries by 55%. In a related development, and subsequent to adopting Vision Zero in 2015, Edmonton in 2018 extended the 30 km/h zones to all 393 schools and playgrounds from 7.30am to 9pm every day. Who is more likely to achieve zero road deaths, Edmonton or New Zealand?

(f) The exemptions that allow 40 km/h zones instead of 30 km/h weaken the whole proposal. The discussion document is disingenuous when it says, “the proposed Rule sets out the circumstances under which [40 km/h limits] may remain in place and do not require further attention.” On looking at the Rule, it seems that any 40 km/h limit can remain in place. Likewise, any other school zone can be 40 km/h if the RCA provides an “explanation.” What kind of explanation suffices? This is a key point that is not addressed in the rule or discussion.

(g) An earlier NZTA document said that school zones should be 300–500 m long. This has been dropped, the length is now left up to the discretion of the RCA. We don’t know what they might determine or how the Director might view their determination.6. “Whole of network” plans seem to be a major requirement and innovation of the rule. But they are not explained or developed. Does it just mean that the speed limit of each and every road should be examined every three years, or does it mean that the network effects, e.g. the impact of speed limits on the overall flow of traffic and which routes drivers take, are to be considered?

7. It is stated that a Rule must assist with ensuring environmental sustainability, and it is briefly stated that lower speeds lower emissions. But this is not mentioned in any of the detailed provisions for setting speed limits, i.e. only lip service is paid to this requirement.

8. The proposed Rule appears to put a lot of weight on RCAs to develop plans that comply with a lot of different criteria (GPS, the government road safety strategy, the whole-of-network approach, Waka Kotahi guidance, and monitoring the impact of past changes, public input) and on the Director for assessing whether they have done this correctly. This looks like a tall order to me. Surely some of this work can be done at a national level? Why should similar roads with similar traffic have different speed limits around the country? I can imagine that this might happen in exceptional circumstances, but surely not often.

9. There is also a lot of weight put on the government road safety strategy, which (in the form it will be used) does not exist yet. This limits our ability to assess what is intended by the new Rule.2

10. The public is at a disadvantage in the whole process, in that they do not have access to WK’s assessment of what is a safe and appropriate speed limit for any particular road. We know from media reports that WK considers nearly all roads to have currently unsafe speed limits. It is not clear why setting safe and appropriate speed limits has not been made a higher priority or been a more absolute requirement. Currently RCAs just have to provide an “explanation” for different speed limits.

11. The matters considered in 3.14.2 only refer to the current state of the road, not the desired state. On the face of it, if a road has no cyclists because it is too dangerous to bike on, then there is no risk to cyclists and no need to take them into account.

12. RCAs are supposed to review the effectiveness of their speed management plans with respect to speed, but not (apparently) with respect to safety.

13. WK is both the RCA of state highways and the employer of the Director. There is a possible conflict of interest here when WK wants a different speed limit on a section of state highway to the RCA of the adjacent roads (e.g., urban state highways). This is a current problem that is not addressed in the proposed Rule.

Recommendations

1. Require all speed limits to be safe and appropriate.
2. Publish the results of WK’s model of safe and appropriate speeds.
3. Make the urban school speed limit 30 km/h by 2024 at the latest, except in specific exceptional circumstances. Remove the proposed exemptions.
4. The Speed Management Committee (and possible RCAs as well) to review whether the speed management plans are reducing deaths and injuries fast enough to meet national targets, and to make recommendations accordingly.
5. Add emissions reductions to each list of matters to be considered when setting speed Limits.
6. Add safe provision of active travel to each list of matters to be considered when setting speed limits.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit on Setting of Speed Limits 2021.

Robert McLachlan
Massey University


A press release by Lucinda Rees of NZ School Speeds:

CHILDREN SET TO BECOME PRIORITY OUTSIDE SCHOOLS?

Media Release by NZ School Speeds 27th April 2021Schoolchildren – our most vulnerable road users – are set to benefit from proposed changes to lower speed limits on roads outside schools to a maximum of 30 km/h for urban schools and 60 km/h for rural schools. NZ School Speeds, a road safety organisation representing school children and concerned adults, is delighted by the announcement and thanks the Minister of Transport for his consideration, but asks for consistency of speed limits to protect all children.Implementing consistent road rules is an easy and effective way to make roads safe for children and families. Our Minister of Transport, Michael Wood, has realised this and is now considering a whole-of-network approach to speed management. “Simplifying and standardising rules to enact a consistent 30 km/h limit outside schools, rather than the ridiculous current limit of up to 100 km/h. These rules are a great way to enforce a safe speed limit around children travelling to and from school,” states Lucinda Rees from NZ School Speeds.

The proposal suggests that in some cases the speed limit should be 40 km/h outside some urban schools. A universal 30 km/h limit at peak times must be considered to ensure drivers always know what is expected of them. The difference of outcomes between these speeds of a vehicle hitting a child is staggering: according to the World Health Organisation, an increase in average speed of 1 km/h typically results in a 3% greater risk of a crash involving injury. At the increased 40 km/h, the likelihood of a child being killed is doubled, despite being ‘only 10 km/h greater.’ As such, raising the speed limit to save drivers a slight amount of travel time is unconscionable when weighed against the safety and wellbeing of our children.Furthermore, a 60 km/h speed limit outside rural schools is initially acceptable, but must be reduced to 30 km/h at peak times to ensure safety, provide consistency to regulations, and minimise driver uncertainty. Rural schools often depend on school buses, which currently have a universal passing speed limit of 20 km/h. Why should speed limits around schools not be similarly consistent for all areas? A child at a rural school is just as vulnerable as one at an urban school. The 30 km/h limit must be in place for every child, no matter their area.

Children, as our most vulnerable road users, must be the main consideration within a school zone, not drivers. Children can act impulsively and are easily distracted. Young children are unable to judge speeds of vehicles. If travelling to school via foot or bike is made to be a safe and attractive option for families, children will benefit the from exercise and mental stimulation this offers. Implementing safe speeds around schools gives children this opportunity to improve their wellbeing.NZ School Speeds is pleased that this potential benefit is considered in the proposal, which states that “RCAs [Road Controlling Authorities] will be encouraged to consider speed management treatments in the broader area around a school (e.g. road narrowing and raised platforms).” The intent of this change is to help improve safety and access for children who may use active modes of transport to get to and from school.However, the proposed timeframe for these changes is unacceptable. Under the current proposal, ‘RCAs will be required to introduce an initial 40% of changes by 30 June 2024 and use ‘reasonable efforts’ to complete the remaining changes by 31 December 2029. This is much too long a time to wait to make travel safer for our children. NZ School Speeds would like to see the revised speed limits implemented before the first term of 2022.

Ms Rees adds: “If this proposal goes ahead, it will be a giant step for road safety of all vulnerable road users, but only if a consistent 30km/h speed limit is implemented for all schools. Children need to be the main consideration within a school zone.”NZ School Speeds will be submitting on the proposed rule change and would like to encourage the public to submit by 25th June 2021 at www.nzta.govt.nz/speedrule2021. ENDS


Some thoughts from Movement:

The rule requires regard to the “road safety aspects of the GPS”, however traffic speeds can significantly contribute to other aspects of the GPS, such as mode shift, travel options, reduced environmental harm (air pollution, noise, emissions, etc.). Hence should the rule not be required to have regard to the broader strategic priorities of the GPS (per NZTA’s obligations under the LTMA)?

The rule uses “mean operating speed”, which by definition means up to half of the vehicles are travelling in excess of this speed (potentially significantly in excess). Looking at international practice, it is more usual to use the “85th percentile operating speed”. Is “mean operating speed” an improvement?

The provisions for speed limits around schools only appears to apply to the road directly outside a school and can be restricted to very limited periods. This is inadequate for improving safety for children walking and cycling from their homes. It appears to be merely for the benefit of those children being driven to and dropped off at school. Can these provisions be amended to require a wider zone around the school and the default of a 24 x 7 safer speed limit, not just the few minutes for the times kids are dropped off by car?

Section 3.14 (1) (a) focuses on the function, use, crash history, traffic volume, etc but does not specifically include perception of safety for active transport uses nor the potential for mode shift.

Will the speed management committee be a publicly announced committee that carries out public consultation? We would not want such a committee to be similar to NZTA’s traffic control device rule committee that is a confidential membership and not open to receiving submissions.
Does the rule go before the transport and infrastructure select committee or NZTA Board as part of its approval process? Please advise the approvals process.

The “Stockholm Declaration” (signed by our Government in March 2020) calls for 30 km/h traffic speeds as follows:

Focus on speed management, including the strengthening of law enforcement to prevent speeding and mandate a maximum road travel speed of 30 km/h in areas where vulnerable road users and vehicles mix in a frequent and planned manner, except where strong evidence exists that higher speeds are safe, noting that efforts to reduce speed in general will have a beneficial impact on air quality and climate change as well as being vital to reduce road traffic deaths and injuries;

We note that the final sentence of the quoted text supports our discussion point 1. What legal weight does the Stockholm Declaration carry in New Zealand and how does the proposed Setting of Speed Limits Rule recognise the Government’s commitment to the Stockholm Declaration?


A comment in a post, by reader Translex:

This new draft rule accepts that requiring all speed limit changes to be made using the clumsy, slow and expensive bylaw process was probably a mistake. So they are dropping that requirement.

The problem is that they are arguably replacing it with a new system that is almost as clumsy, slow and expensive. A requirement on both Waka Kotahi and the local council style Road Controlling Authorities (including AT) to produce another planning document every three years. Speed Management Plans sound superficially like a reasonable idea but local government is already overburdened with planning documents (particularly transport planning documents) and so adding another one on top of the pile with a particular focus on setting safer speed limits as well as engineering proposals to reinforce driver behavior change around speed limits seems like it might just be a waste of time and money that could be spent on actually doing the engineering and assessing the right speed limit for each road.

It is hard to see how there is much need for each council to write their own plan only to have them all be approved by Waka Kotahi against how well they comply with the Waka Kotahi speed limits guidance document. How different will the plans end up being if they all have to show they align with what Waka Kotahi says anyway.

The whole need to publicly consult about speed limits is also arguably a thing that should be done away with for decisions about what is a safe and appropriate speed for a particular stretch of road. In reality this is more of a science than an art and to the extent that it is also an art it is one that should only be practiced by qualified artists. Arm chair experts are pretty much always just to fall into two groups – those who hate the idea of being told to drive slower and those who are “thinking-of-the-children” and want the speeds to be even lower. Doesn’t it make more sense to just have good national guidance and then let the experts at each council apply them to the roads they are responsible for. The sort of thing they do with vehicle standards and the design of traffic signals – just because the public use transport infrastructure doesn’t mean their opinions on it are more important than expert advice.

Good to see the proposed rule make it clear that the intention is that all schools will have lower speeds.

SH16 Kaukapakapa School. Credit: Waka Kotahi
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55 comments

  1. Great post, I can’t wait to see more appropriate speed limits across the region. We have seen the city centre and various rural road get treatment, but most other urban roads are still waiting. AT website reads like they have finished, no future dates listed for further work seemingly?

    In west Auckland the default seems to be +10km/h and there is little to no enforcement, I am guessing as fines are too low at those levels most people wouldn’t even care / potentially the police don’t either. Streams of cars going past a parked Police officer at +10km/h routinely are ignored – and they only tend to go after the ones doing ridiculous speeds…

    There also seems to be the issue of health and safety. Why isn’t it applied to roads? If there was a hazard in the workplace that caused minor injury, action would be taken to cordon it off until it could be made safe. Yet on the roads minor injury, major injury or even death – they just reopen the road as quickly as possible, not even as much as a temporary speed limit drop until improvements can be added.

    Look at Te Atatu Rd, a bike user gets killed, they cordon off the road for a few hours then its back to 50km/h (60km/h much of the time) 4-lane madness. They then take 3-4 years to implement a crossing as a result of that. Why were lower speed limits not introduced in the interim, perhaps some temporary speed humps, and a Zebra crossing, until the lights could be constructed? Its just astonishing how little care we have for roading DSI’s yet anywhere else, people and the law would be all over it.

  2. Thanks. Bit of reading to do yet. Robert McLachlan’s submission is very good:

    “Edmonton, Canada, has a lot of experience with school zones. One study (“Are school zones effective in reducing speeds and improving safety?”, Sun, El-Basyouny, Ibrahim, and Kim, Canadian J. Civil Eng. 6 July 2018 https://doi.org/10.1139/cjce-2018-0060) found that school zones reduced deaths and injuries by 55%. In a related development, and subsequent to adopting Vision Zero in 2015, Edmonton in 2018 extended the 30 km/h zones to all 393 schools and playgrounds from 7.30am to 9pm every day. Who is more likely to achieve zero road deaths, Edmonton or New Zealand?”

    “The matters considered in 3.14.2 only refer to the current state of the road, not the desired state. On the face of it, if a road has no cyclists because it is too dangerous to bike on, then there is no risk to cyclists and no need to take them into account.”

    That is an important point to submit about.

  3. The 40kph speed limit sign on Hobson Street, with no attempt at enforcement or traffic calming, is one of the laziest things I’ve ever seen.

    Robust funding with policy attached is what makes a difference, not policy for policy’s sake.

  4. Flippineck

    “Wholesale change to the default speed limits would be a high impact change and is not considered necessary or desirable…”

    A high impact change is exactly what’s needed, ffs.

    Not considered necessary. Gawd… where do these people come from? Hope they’re not still there deciding about this rule.

    1. Oof, and describing universally safer default speeds as a “high impact change” that’s “not considered necessary or desirable”… in the context of *high impact crashes* that kill hundreds and and maim thousands of New Zealanders every year?

    2. AT think that they need to spend millions adding physical road quieting infrastructure or all people will just ignore lower posted speed limits and as they can’t directly enforce the new limits, it’s not worth trying. This is based on “research” from NZTA that can’t be provided to the public.

        1. I asked why the Rata and Ash “pre” consultation for the safety consultation late last year, did not make any mention of Speed. I thought that as we are in vision zero land and AT have explicitly stated the inherent danger of speed, why is reducing the speed limit of the road not on the cards at least on a discussion level. I ended up speaking with the AT staff about it, they said eventually that their research from NZTA shows that lowing speed limits alone is not enough and that physical infrastructure changes are needed as well. What was even more confusing is the manager of the AT consultation staff
          talked about blanket speed limit reductions as something that will happen at some point. Spending millions on every bit of road, then reducing speed limits, sounds backwards to me.

        2. Thanks. Did you specifically ask for the research from NZTA and they refused? Seems to me that of course we should be changing the environment too – but it is not a prerequisite. And Glen Koorey’s paper addresses the issue well: https://viastrada.nz/sites/default/files/2019-03/TG2019-ResearchPaper-GKoorey-SpeedLimits-final.pdf

          “studies in New Zealand and elsewhere have fairly consistently found small changes in observed mean speeds following a posted speed limit change, in the absence of any change in road environment, enforcement, or road user motivation… drivers base their decision on what speed to travel at from a combination of the posted speed limit (or their assumption of what it is) and the “environmental speed” of the road… The latter measure is based on the design of the road (e.g. horizontal curvature, road width, surface texture, traffic calming features) and the surrounding environment (e.g. adjacent land uses, road user activity, frequency of parking, weather, trees and vegetation). The degree to which posted speeds are accepted and adhered to by drivers, rather than being influenced by the environmental speed more, is a function of both the level of enforcement (e.g. presence of traffic police and speed cameras, penalties for speeding) and the degree of compliance (e.g. general societal/cultural norms for respecting laws, perceived appropriateness of the speed limit).”

        3. I could not reply to your other comment.

          Thank you for the link very interesting.

          Nope I was wrong, they did send me an email with 150 PDF named “safer speeds public acceptance and compliance 2014“.

          Would you like for me to email the entire response?

        4. Ah yes, I know that research. It showed the need to lower speed limits so people felt free to drive at the lower speeds they want to drive at – this supports the lowering of speed limits without having to make the built environment changes. The Road User Rule allows people to drive at any speed below the speed limit, and take care to do so considerately, but the sector has focused their energies on ‘travel time savings’ which has encouraged a culture in which people feel intimidated and drive faster than what they’re comfortable with. One of the quotes about this was:

          “While it appears most drivers (91%) accept that everyone should obey the speed limit, a high percentage of drivers also think it is important to keep up with the flow of traffic (82%). Hence they may drive above the speed limit as they do not want to hold others up, which would be impolite. Most appear to support the police doing more enforcement of speeds so they can go a ‘safer’ or lower speed without holding people up. This appears to support lower speed tolerances and lower speed limits where appropriate.”

          Since they weren’t refusing to give you the evidence behind their approach I don’t imagine I need the reply; if there’s anything else you think is important in it though, let me know and I’ll find a way to make contact.

        5. I think you have misinterpreted that response Jak. What the engineer actually means is
          ‘I am not willing to slow down traffic so I am going to deliberately misrepresent research and hope that you won’t have the confidence to call me out’

          The Waka Kotahi research pretty much all says that lowering the speed limit where the current limit is safe is a good idea, *even if most people will speed* after the new limit is introduced.

  5. Another thing confuses me in the consultation document, the relationship between speed limits and infrastructure “improvements”. It is not clear if the latter refer to road changes that nudge drivers towards driving slower, or to make it safer to drive faster. Either way, if these are in year 10 of a 10 year plan, do speed limits need to be lowered in the meantime?

  6. In my suburb we still have our 50km speed limit and the local council do regular measurements of speed. They are show a significant number of people over the limit with a few outliers going really fast. But there is no enforcement. Having fixed speed cameras would be one way of enforcement. But in the end better road/walking/cycling design would be better. Trouble is when the idea of speed humps or similar are mentioned a small set of well known opponents pop up and ensure the conversation stops. So we need both lower speed limits and ways that these can be enforced.

  7. I absolutely agree on the subject of reducing speed limit, but I’m really scared that you keep saying from post to post that democracy is a burden. The subject affects many and the consultation should happen. If we start making more exemptions, leaving all the decisions to experts this is a streamline way to technocratic dictatorship. With dictatorship you will anyway end up with a lot more unnecessary deaths than hypothetical expects could potentially save, because under dictatorship regime people becoming a resource, like petrol or timber and their lives are unimportant. History has shown that many times.

    1. I can’t see any mention of democracy being a burden in this article, although maybe I missed it.

      Not having consultation on every speed limit change is no more of an affront to democracy than not having consultation on changing the phasing at a set of traffic lights which no one bats an eyelid at.

      Consultation on the broader guidelines for setting speed limits is more than sufficient.

      1. Not having consultation on every speed limit change arguably improves democracy. Freeing up time to submit on the things that aren’t so clearly answered by science means better decision-making on those topics.

    2. I’m certainly not talking about dictatorships. I’m talking about the sort of methods being trialled over the last 6 or 7 years that improve democracy. There are ways to resolve the problems of minorities’ voices being persistently swamped by majority voices, of corporations being able to pay people to write submissions but those impacted having little time to be involved, etc, and that face up to the current threats to democracy.

      I learnt at a talk at the university recently about Oregon where they have Citizens’ Initiated Referenda – which can be important for bringing topics up for debate that would otherwise never attention, but can also exhaust the population with too much voting, and can be very divisive. They are having modest success at improving the outcomes through the use of Citizens’ Referendum Reviews, in which a random sample of 24 citizens, demographically balanced, take a deep dive into the subject. They then produce a clear summary that is mailed out to all voters.

      This is just one method. There are others that I’m learning about. I might write about it at some stage.

      Decision-making is work. The number of things we need to understand really deeply to make good decisions is enormous. It’s better if we share this burden, but in a way that we choose.

      Some problems are well articulated in the video at the top of this post: https://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/wellington/125471532/wellington-a-city-divided-as-spatial-plan-thriller-plays-out-beneath-bureaucracys-lights

    3. There is a bit of a difference between an evidence-based approach to road safety and North Korea.

      “Democracy” is a really fraught concept in an area where the general public are not being kept up to date with the actual science and data that would allow them to make good decisions, and are instead informed by outrage-mongering click-bait by the Hoskings of this world. Technocracy is a bad idea because it encourages alienation; but its opposite, proudly ignorant populism and the dictatorship of “reckons”, is as bad.

      1. The fact that this website exists is also kind of democracy and freedom to discuss decisions. You would be shot or unpersoned somewhere in NKore-ish country for just publicly assuming that some ministry of something is not very efficient.

      2. Yes, this is it. Democracy doesn’t require that loud and/or uneducated viewpoints are given the same weight as formal research and expert opinion.

      3. “and are instead informed by outrage-mongering click-bait by the Hoskings of this world.”

        Yes important to keep the zealots away from the decision making. I would include Heidi in that too though.

    4. There’s a big difference between direct democracy and democratically elected leadership. The point of consultations should be to see if there’s anything that the authority didn’t consider and would unacceptably impact peoples lives. Not to find out of the public support some change.

      Direct democracy (eg having a little referendum) for every change is hilariously inefficient and massively stifles any change. We elect leaders to make decisions that need to be made and be very well informed on the change that they intend to make. Even if the change is unpopular with the general public, it might be necessary in the long term and in the end people will be much better off if the change is made. The public cannot be expected to be informed on the full depth of science behind every change and its impacts.

      I’ll use gay marriage as an example, a large swath of the public still is against it, they (as a generalization) do not know the science / stats behind it, they do not understand the positive benefits that allowing it will have. They’re just against it and if they were asked if it should proceed and be allowed they would vote no. As late as 2013 there were polls where it was a 50-50 split.

      Could we expect reasonable decisions to be made by uninformed people who do not know the stats, research, impacts of these changes? beyond what they see on a day to day basis, especially changes that have negative short term impacts, but over the longer term pay dividends?

      I don’t disagree that moving to a dictatorship would be vastly worse than what we have now. But electing leaders that make evidence based decisions is a very very long way from that, and having too much short sighted public say is bad. The goal is to have the best long term lives for the citizens of the country, democracy is the key to protecting that, but adding too much uninformed decision making is counter to the goal.

  8. Red light cameras and fixed location speed camera’s are urgently needed throughout the country.
    This would immediately act as a deterrent for breaking the law, and increase safety at these locations.
    Some silly reasoning why this isn’t considered important, bureaucratic layers of management / funding between local councils / NZTA and police?

    F’s sake. This NEEDS action.

    1. I’m pretty sure Police don’t like speed cameras and red-light cameras because they make Police unpopular. The cries of “revenue gathering” are never far away. 99pi did an interview on police and traffic enforcement that I found really interesting: https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/policing-the-open-road/transcript/

      “traffic quickly came to consume much of the police’s time. It became a large part of their duties, and for the police to enforce the letter of the law against these ordinarily law-abiding citizens proved to be a huge headache because nobody liked being enforced. Nobody liked to be ticketed. Nobody liked to be arrested for a traffic violation. And so what Volmer saw was what he called the respectable citizenry, started turning against the police. And he hated that because police as professionals were owed respect, not disdain.”

      1. Nobody is owed respect, you have to earn it.
        And nobody likes to be ticketed? There’s a simple solution for that.

        1. Police put their lives on the line everyday to protect you, me and everyone in this country. Don’t be a Richard Head, Scott.

      2. Going forward, it won’t be the Police running the safety cameras; it will be Waka Kotahi NZTA. The Police never had sufficient resources (relative to other policing demands) to process the existing cameras, let alone the planned increase in camera numbers. So legislation is allowing Waka Kotahi to do it instead.

  9. If somebody chooses to ignore the rules and speed then perhaps, from a psychometric point of view they aren’t really suitable to actually have a licence in first place. It’s a privilege not a right. That would certainly get the talkback callers angry.

    1. If someone delberatley slows down the bulk of traffic where 99 percent of the public can safely travel at that speed that person should also not have a license showing they dont simply know how to drive a car in normal circumstances let alone adverse conditions

      1. If someone is unaware of NZ’s safety crisis and the contribution speed makes to it, then they would do well to become better informed. It is incorrect to say that 99 percent of the public are driving safely.

  10. You like to compare NZ with Europe….
    Yes many places there have lower speed limits on 2 lane roads and that is fine because they not only have motorways, they also have higher speed limits on them too.
    Vision Zero wants 100k limits on roads with no chance of head ons/driveways etc etc… In other words motorways/expressways. Apart from a few places where there is significant congestion/lane changing for exits etc or tighter than usual corners (CMJ etc) the rest of our motorways (and certainly those outside of central city areas) should be 110km/h (or more). Many if these roads are no different (some are even better) than roads overseas with 110-130km/h limits.

    If you want to reduce productivity by having lower limits elsewhere then you need to step up and balance that with productivity gains from faster highways.

    1. Could you produce some evidence, please, that safe speeds lower productivity? In fact, the opposite could be true.

      Business models that require an imposition of risk to life and limb, and that therefore contribute to DSI are business models that we don’t need, thanks. I prefer to encourage the kind of responsible business models we want, by establishing the environments in which they can thrive.

    2. How much productivity is lost when someone gets killed in a car accident and ‘insert number’ of people take the day off to go to the funeral?

      Multiplied by how x hundred people each year.

      1. Yes. And how much productivity lost from the crashes that leave people seriously injured and needing ongoing care? And from the crashes that just hold the traffic up, which happen in many places around the city every day?

        And how much productivity lost from people having to drive their non-driving family members around instead of getting something else done while their family members make their own safe way there on foot, micromobility or in combination with public transport.

        The “productivity” argument is the biggest dinosaur of all.

        1. “ The “productivity” argument is the biggest dinosaur of all.”
          And yet here we are driving around rather than using horses… why? Productivity. What was life expectancy back in the day? How do you fund health systems (which save exponentially more than those killed or injured in vehicle accidents) if your economy is at the level of North Koreas because you don’t use vehicles?
          “Oh but we only advocate safe use of vehicles” – or some such nonsense as that…

        2. Sometimes productivity is the driver. Sometimes climate change or safety or improved liveability and access are. Whatever the driver, there are enormous productivity gains to be had from freeing the streets of unnecessary and costly car traffic – but to do this, you need to make the streets safe and pleasant for people to use other modes.

    3. I think the happy medium would be to retain most state highway limits at 100, and roll out medium rope barriers and side barriers, with left / right turn bays to most of the network. This wouldn’t be as safe as suggested by vision zero. But we don’t have remotely similar infrastructure to the countries where the vision zero concept has originated, nor is it realistic to roll out that kind of long distance infrastructure that they have. We cannot afford to continue building full motorways in the country. The BCR’s keep getting worse. But median barriers like has been done in the dome valley I think is a very good solution and is vastly cheaper than full new alignments and interchanges, buying far more safety with the same dollars.

      Due to the significant decrease in car fuel efficiency as you start increasing speeds beyond 100km/h I don’t think this is a good idea. Some European countries have started to remove these higher limits for a reason, and more probably will do so. Maybe that could be one of the advantages of having an EV? better long distance speed limits on the couple expressways where its safe.

      1. And until they are “rolled out” the speed limits need to be set according to the science, so people don’t die.

        1. Yep, plus that would pressure Waka Kotahi to divert money from pointless motorways to safety only upgrades.

    4. “You like to compare NZ with Europe”

      If we compared New Zealand with Europe we would be putting 80km/h limits on the southern motorway at least as far as Mt Wellington and the whole way from the CMJ to the start of the Causeway on the northwestern. We would be putting 60km/h limits through the CMJ. In Wellington the entire motorway and expressway system south of the Kapiti expressway would be 80km/h.

      Most European motorways have 110km/h plus speed limits, but most European motorways are rural motorways with 5km+ interchange spacing. The only areas we have like that are the Waikato Expressway, TEL, north of Orewa, the Kapiti expressway and maybe Christchurch Southern Motorway.

    5. It is true to add that lower speeds add to emissions, especially very low speeds that we are seeing in cities. This is particularly bad when combined with traffic calming measures.
      From a safety POV, lower speeds are needed in built up areas and especially around schools, but far more needed is better driver tests and more strict enforcement of red light running.
      Speeds on the motorway should be 120kph and many highways 110kph.
      Modern car stopping distances are far shorter than they were in the 1960’s and our speeds can be adjusted accordingly.

      1. Which highway’s would you make 110kmh? I think we could definitely have higher speed limits on our rural motorways/expressways but the majority of our motorways are in urban areas, these are generally 100kmh in most countries.

  11. What l don’t like currently is the hotch potch of speed limits,sometimes 4 different limits on the same road. Where did 40 kph come from,either 50,(status quo) or 30,(risk).
    Would like to see 30kph blanket speed limit ,urban, and 80 kph,rural, then let the lobby groups,petition for increases from there,rather than arguing the speed limit down. Not a wowser, just detest reading about road deaths, as the ad says,the faster you go,the bigger the mess

    1. With you fully , Bryan.

      And where there are exceptions, they should be based on what the community wants, not how drivers currently behave.

      The enforcement, with no tolerance on the limit, including speed cameras, both stand-alone and average-speed ones.

  12. Its disingenuous to compare and state speed limits in “Northern Europe” are 30-40km/h and 60-80km/h.
    EU framework for speed limits is Urban = 50km/h, Rural = 80-90km/h and Motorway 120-130km/h.
    Northern European countries apply different speed limits in winter, e.g. In Finland, the speed limit at motorways changes from 120 km/h to 100 km/h and, on main rural roads, from 100 km/h to 80 km/h. In Sweden the speed limits change respectively from 110 km/h to 90 km/h and from 90 km/h to 70 km/h.
    https://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/specialist/knowledge/speed/speed_limits/current_speed_limit_policies_en

    1. It’s perfectly reasonable to say that urban speed limits are 30-40km/h. The enormous majority of urban roads have those speed limits. Same thing with 60-80km/h in rural areas. 50km/h and greater is pretty much only used on the arterial roads.

      Btw, Sweden absolutely does not have 110km/h limits on 2 lane undivided rural roads. Nor does anywhere in the EU. Sweden has 110km/h limits on 2 lane roads with three barrier systems.

  13. They say “Speed management committee appointments will be made by the Minister, on advice from MOT.” Why not appointed with advice from GA, CAN, Living Streets, etc? They might be rather less biased towards speed.

  14. What happened to cruising?

    Maybe mean higher speeds made possible by more capable vehicles turned our scenic drives into unattractive traffic sewers that we can’t wait to get out of.

    Unbelievable that there is no discussion of electronic/mechanical speed limiting. Traffic safety cameras are for timid-tip-toe-around-the-gammons politicians.

  15. Note that the operation of speed and red light cameras was taken away from the police and given to NZTA (Waka Kotahi) last year. So under the new process the public will be able to comment on camera locations every three years. At the moment there seem to be 48 speed cameras and 3 red light cameras in the country.

      1. Yes. My kids are getting bored of crossing at the lights with me.
        Common Routine
        “Green Man says walk,
        wait for last car to go thru intersection,
        then actually walk”
        Then dad says you would have been hit if gone on green man.

    1. Yes, taken from the Police before WK had a system, and now we’re waiting for it. Levels of incompetence I didn’t know we were capable of.

      Where did you find those numbers, Robert? I didn’t realise it was quite so low.

  16. Its like whoever is driving NZ road safety only knows how to use the brake. Simple answers for simple folk I guess.
    There are three instances when the open road speed was changed. 1962, 1973, and 1985. People who analyze this as justification for decreasing speed limits tend to ignore 1962 as it goes counter their arguments. Its exclusion revels their bias and hints at a hidden agenda. The 1973 and 85 changes occurred close to the economic events that caused them. If we analyze 1973 and 85-87 we can see economic effects at work. In general, during boom times the number of motorcycles increases as does heavy freight on the roads. Employment improves so more people, commute, travel, and raise families. During bust times these things decrease. Things must have been pretty good up to and including most of 1973. This is when new registrations of motorcycles peaked, in fact new motorcycle registrations in 1973 were more than 11 times what they were in 1969. Since a person is (currently) 21 times as likely to die riding a km on a motorcycle as they are in a car, small changes in motor cycle numbers has an amplified effect on the road toll. New car registrations and new commercial vehicle registrations also formed a peak in 1973. We can see the effect of so many new motorcycles and new riders on the road in the vehicle type fatal accident statistics with motorcycle riders killed rising 250% from 1971 to 1973 and pillion passengers killed rising 300% from 1971 to 1973. Trucks carrying freight on the roads peaked in 1973 and then went into decline. There is evidence of a consolidation of freight loads as the majority of new trucks moved up a weight class in 1973 and prosecutions for overloading surged after 73. In 1982 the transport licensing restrictions were removed that prohibited road carriers carting goods more than 150km when rail was available. This would have almost certainly have put more trucks on the roads. This is when we start to see the road toll start to climb towards its peak in 1987.
    https://ibb.co/0X2GjBx
    This graph illustrates the connection between truck number and fatalities using Auckland harbor bridge crossings as a proxy for truck numbers. This would point to weight disparity of road users as a significant factor. Its the common thread in both motorcycle and truck number driving up the road toll in the 70’s. The rising road toll could have its origins in the mix of vehicles we are putting on the road. When 4 of the 5 most popular new cars are Ute’s and others are small hatchbacks we are growing the weight disparity issue.

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