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When will speed limits be amended?

By: Hon Andrew Bayly, National MP for Port Waikato

I have long been a critic of the blanket reduction of speed limits across the wider Franklin area by Auckland Transport (AT). Under their Safe Speeds programme, AT carried out speed limit reductions on over 200 roads in Franklin, 33 of which they identified as having a high risk of death or serious injuries occurring.

These roads were reduced from 100 kph outside of town centres and settlements to 80 kph and in some places (past schools, for example) to 60 kph. Since then, there has been much public outcry against the blanket reductions, and several newly installed speed cameras have been cut down in protest.

Speed limits on state highways have similarly been reduced by the NZTA, down from 100 kph to 80 kph in many parts of the country.

The recent roadworks around Rangiriri and Te Kauwhata, the closure of the on- and off-ramps, and the many months of reduced speed limits with no obvious signs of work being carried out have been terribly frustrating for not only those communities living in the area, but also those travelling through the region for work and hospital appointments. This led to the Minister of Transport seeking an explanation from NZTA about the delays on this stretch of road. I have also followed up with NZTA and the Minister.

While it would appear that Franklin’s roads are among some of the worst in Auckland for road traffic accidents, I believe this indicates we need more serious action rather than just a change to speed limits. Simply lowering speed limits without taking into account how they will affect travel times and economic activity is a completely irrational approach. AT should be targeting those areas that are renowned accident blackspots by introducing engineered solutions and better signage, and removing poor-quality road surfaces.

The legislation that enabled councils to make blanket speed limit reductions was the previous Government’s Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits (2017 and 2022 versions). Those drivers frustrated by slow-moving traffic will be relieved to know that the Coalition Government has started the process to reverse the blanket speed reductions with the introduction of a new Land Transport Rule to be signed by the end of this year. The rule is currently being developed and will go out for consultation in the coming months.

The new rule will ensure that when speed limits are set, the economic impacts – including travel times – and the views of road users and local communities will be taken into account, alongside safety. Road controlling authorities will be required to undertake cost-benefit analyses. Not all speed limits will be reversed. Variable speed limits will still be required around schools, but during pick-up and drop-off times, rather than permanent reductions, and reduced speed limits will be maintained in town centres and in high-crash areas.

Later this year, we will also publish new objectives for road safety which focus on safer roads, safer drivers, and safer vehicles. This will target the highest contributing factors in fatal road crashes, particularly alcohol and drugs. It is expected that the blanket speed limit reductions will be reversed by the end of 2025, apart from where it is unsafe to do so.

The new Land Transport Rule will also enable 110 kph speed limits on existing expressways and on our newly announced Roads of National Significance, a programme that was first introduced by the National Government in 2009.

These roads, identified as being critical to improving economic productivity and growth, included the Waikato Expressway, Pūhoi to Warkworth extension, Transmission Gully, the Waterview Tunnel, the Tauranga Eastern Link, and the Victoria Park Tunnel, among others. The new programme includes Mill Road, the much-needed alternative route to the Southern Motorway that will connect Manukau with Drury.

Hon Andrew Bayly is the MP for Port Waikato and the Minister for Commerce & Consumer Affairs, Minister for Small Business & Manufacturing, and Minister for Statistics; for electorate issues, he can be contacted at andrew@baylymp.co.nz or follow him on Facebook @AndrewBaylyMP

Funded by Parliamentary Service. Authorised by Hon Andrew Bayly, MP for Port Waikato, 7 Wesley Street, Pukekohe.

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elocal Digital Edition – May 2024 (#277)

elocal Digital Edition
May 2024 (#277)

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