Over the last couple of months, we have seen the beginning of the new emphasis on road safety.
Unfortunately, investing in newer, safer roads to deal with our growing population and economy is not on the table. Instead, the plan is to slow the country down by reducing speed limits.
Unquestionably, roads and the vehicles that travel on them pose a safety risk. But they also allow for the geographic, economic and social mobility that is fundamental to our society. Sensible transport policy is about finding the balance between these two priorities.
Of course, it’s logical that the slower the traffic moves, the less chance of serious accidents – I accept that.
However, there has to be a limit where reducing speeds below a certain point becomes unreasonable and starts having an adverse impact on the overall efficiency of our roading network.
Auckland Transport has recently pushed ahead with a new speed limit bylaw that will reduce speeds across 700 kilometres of the region’s roads. Much of the media’s focus has been on the new 30km/h inner-city speed limits, but there’s also a big group of rural roads that are going to be brought down from 100km/h to 60km/h or even 40km/h.
Motorists can accept a minor reduction in speed limits where that seems reasonable and there exists the quid pro quo that investment is being put into the roads themselves, but asking open-road traffic to crawl along at 40km/h seems on the surface of it to be pretty drastic.
The Government is also pushing piecemeal proposals to lower speed limits on main highways around the rest of the country, with no consideration of the impact on freight movements...
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