A New Zealand Transport Association tool shows 87% of road speeds are higher than is safe:
. . . The agency’s online risk assessment tool, Mega Maps, uses a range of factors such as road width and stereotype, shoulder width, roadside hazards and alignment to calculate the safe and appropriate travel speed.
Mega Maps suggests only 5 percent of the open road should have the current 100 kilometre an hour speed limit, and in most cases a speed of 60-80 km/h should apply.
For most urban areas, Mega Maps suggests the safe and appropriate speed would be 30-40 km/h . .
Road design is one factor in making driving less safe. New Zealand roads could be much better but plans by the previous government to improve some by building four-lane highways were canned by this one.
I do most of my driving on the open road and it’s rare to have a longer trip when I’m not caught behind someone dawdling along at 10, 20 or more kilometres an hour below the legal, and safe for most, speed limit.
There are times when the road is hilly and windy, the light is poor and/or the weather inclement when slower speeds are appropriate but driving at 60 – 80 kph on most roads most of the time, providing the driver isn’t distracted, tired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, would be a recipe for frustration.
It would also put a handbrake on the economy:
A wholesale reduction in speed limits could do more harm than good by further isolating regional New Zealand and weakening the economy, National’s Transport spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.
Media reports today reveal the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) estimates 87 per cent of our roads have speed limits that are too high for the conditions. Its mapping tool suggests many roads with a 100kmh speed limit should be reduced to as low as 60kmh.
“We all want safer roads, and while reducing speed limits across the board might be the easiest thing to do, it is too simplistic and would have huge implications for our way of life,” Mr Goldsmith says.
“Slower roads would impact regional New Zealand severely. Drastic speed limit cuts might mean it would take 45 minutes longer to get to New Plymouth from Hamilton, for example. In terms of isolation, that’s the equivalent of shifting the city another 60 kilometres out to sea.
“There would also be significant economic costs. If it suddenly took 30 per cent longer to move freight the same distance our national productivity would drop substantially, freight costs would rise and our international competitiveness would fall.
“A smaller economy would invest less in healthcare, for example, ultimately costing lives. Houses would be more expensive to build and the price of food would go up. These broader implications need to be considered fully.
“Over the past three years the road toll has risen, and we should absolutely be focused on understanding why. But it’s worth remembering that speed alone is not the cause.
“Other factors include drugged-driving, enforcement of current laws around drink-driving, not wearing seat belts, the quality of our roads, driver distraction and a huge increase in tourism.
“The Government should reverse its policy of not investing in quality new roads, and deal with its blind spot on drugged drivers. It has resolutely ignored the issue for nearly 18 months and it is appalling that the Minister in charge of road safety, Julie Anne Genter, is opposed to roadside drug testing because of her Green Party’s liberal approach to drugs.
“If the Government is truly concerned about saving lives on our roads, then why did the Budget show a cut, in real terms, to road safety policing?”
Most people don’t drive on a whim for the sake of it. We drive to get somewhere we need to go and want to get there in the shortest time we can safely do it.
Then there’s the people who drive for a living, many of whom are those who transport goods.
Slower legal speeds would add to the hours truck drivers would take to get from one place to another and curtail the distance they could travel without going over the time limits imposed on their driving for safety’s sake. It would also raise issues of animal welfare for those transporting stock.
Recommending that only 13% of roads can be safely driven at 100 kph suggests the tool is designed for driving on another planet.