The open road speed limit

May 8th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Government transport officials are being urged to consider raising the on some motorway stretches – particularly in Auckland – to 110km/h.

Very sensible. There are some roads on which that speed is entirely safe. There are also some open roads where if you drive over 60 km/hr you are a moron. Not all open roads are the same. Key issues are quality of road, width of road, median barrier, side roads, straightness, pedestrian density etc.

A call by veteran motoring writer Peter Gill to raise the limit from 100km/h along “choice” sections such as the new Hobsonville motorway gained tentative support yesterday from the Automobile Association.

Good. One happy member here.

The important thing was to match speed limits with road types, rather than to continue to widen the range with little apparent consistency.

Exactly.

But Brake chief executive Mary Williams said last night that Mr Gill and other drivers could not cheat basic laws of physics, which meant that “the faster you are going, the less time you have to react to unexpected hazards and the bigger the force of impact”.

No, but you look at what is the possibility of unexpected hazards on a particular road. On Lambton Quay it is very high as people cross over all the time so I support a 30 km/hr limit there. On the Foxton Straits the most likely hazard would be a plane crashing from the RNZAF base, so you can have a higher limit.

“A small increase in speed leads to a much bigger increase in the distance needed to sop, no matter how good your brakes are. We need to build on that, not introduce measures which present a bigger risk to road users.”

Wrong. With that sort of thinking, we would have a nationwide 20 km/hr limit. It is never about just reducing risk. You have to look at the benefits of allowing faster travel, and weigh them up against the risk.

Open road limits
* Australia 100km/h to 130km/h
* UK 113km/h (may rise to 129km/h)
* US 89km/h to 129km/h
* Japan 80km/h to 100km/h
* France 130km/h on motorways (reduced to 110km/h in rain)
* Germany No general limit on autobahns, maximum of 130km/h recommended.

Austria has no limits also. It is a real pleasure driving on their autobahns.

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53 Responses to “The open road speed limit”

  1. Alan Wilkinson (1,816 comments) says:

    Why did we need another bunch of lunatics trying to control our lives like Brake?

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  2. wreck1080 (3,730 comments) says:

    Stupid to say all open speed limit roads are just 100kph.

    eg, the auckland to hamilton road has many stretches where the speed could be higher.

    But, drive from Hamilton to Tauranga and you go over the Kaimais mountain range where the speed limit is 100kph but should only be 70 or 80.

    I’m amazed that so many of our roads are 100kph….many of our roads would be downgraded to 80kph if it were the UK.

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  3. Bevan (3,965 comments) says:

    “A small increase in speed leads to a much bigger increase in the distance needed to sop, no matter how good your brakes are. We need to build on that, not introduce measures which present a bigger risk to road users.”

    Sorry, someone had to do it…

    ‘There’s something strange about that ‘Sop’ sign… ‘

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  4. Redbaiter (7,605 comments) says:

    “Why did we need another bunch of lunatics trying to control our lives like Brake?”

    Dunno the answer to that Alan, but one thing for sure, numb nutted and brainwashed socialist NZers vote for more and more of them at every election.

    Dipshits voting themselves into tyranny, they do not deserve the luxury of democracy.

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  5. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    Contrary to the universally accepted slogan, speed doesn’t kill. If this were true, airline travel would be suicidal while cycling would be as safe as houses. Nonsense of course. I’m much safer at 35,000 than I am at 40km/h keeping a wary eye out for nasska and his bonnet-mounted cycle gun.

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  6. MT_Tinman (2,989 comments) says:

    The ministry said travelling unreasonably slowly caused one reported injury crash in 2010.

    This is the sort of bullshit the do-what-we-tell-you mob are leading with in this debate.

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  7. RRM (9,445 comments) says:

    Sweet.

    [As long as the people making decisions about what speed limits to allow, and where, are good sensible technicians and not political lunatics like Redbaiter...]

    My old man is still bitter to this day about the 50mph open road speed limits introduced by Labour in the early 1970s…. immediately after he bought his brand new Triumph 2000 which he had been looking forward to driving very fast in.

    Says he’s never voted for ‘the Pinkos’ ever since.

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  8. gravedodger (1,514 comments) says:

    @ wreck 4 12, You make a valid point but as I am unfamiliar with the road you quote I will relate it to SH 75, my umbilical to the City.
    A limit of 80 was suggested a while ago and often it would be acceptable but with Truck and Trailers laboring at 40 kph along with Campers and limited opportunities to overtake, those who know the road can overtake but it requires a very rapid acceleration to around 120 or so to do it safely so a limit of 80 would provide an opportunity of “harvest proportions” for plod.
    Many recently constructed roads provide a good safety level for modern vehicles and raising limits should be employed where circumstances allow.

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  9. Rick Rowling (801 comments) says:

    Isn’t the UK speed limit higher for grade-separated dual carriageway?

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  10. Rick Rowling (801 comments) says:

    Contrary to the universally accepted slogan, speed doesn’t kill.

    Any physicist will tell you that it’s the acceleration that kills.

    /yes, slowing down is “acceleration”

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  11. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    >Austria has no limits also. It is a real pleasure driving on their autobahns.

    Really? I distinctly remember getting a ticket for a quite unremarkable 120km/hr on the A12 while heading towards the Brenner Pass.

    Italy is a joy to drive in. They have speed limits but no one knows what they are or cares either. I’ve traveled well over 200km/hr there and it just eats up the kilometers. Once you get out of the north you can also ignore traffic lights, lane markings, and other impediments to forward velocity.

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  12. RRM (9,445 comments) says:

    Any physicist will tell you that it’s the acceleration that kills.

    And any physicist will tell you that you need initial speed, plus a tree, or another car, or something similar to get that acceleration. ;-)

    So it’s a combination of being in the wrong place going the wrong direction at the wrong time, and being at speed, that kills.

    The last time I saw DPF mention cars on here, he had a photo of himself in Hawaii sitting in some god-awful FWD V6 Mitsubishi convertible pig of a car. His comments about high speed driving on the Autobahn are therefore somewhat devalued in my eyes…

    Really? I distinctly remember getting a ticket for a quite unremarkable 120km/hr on the A12 while heading towards the Brenner Pass.

    They operate a [variable speed limit //// don't be an idiot] system on the Autobahn – if you cane along at extreme speed on a twisty section of it in heavy traffic during bad weather, you’ll get pulled up for it. ;-)

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  13. Griff (6,749 comments) says:

    The change in the safety and improvement in the handling of modern cars is quite startling
    Comparing my v6 toyota wagon with the old holdens vallytanks and falcoons I grew up with
    even my fifteen year old shitbox has abs and airbags the tires are larger and the handling levels of magnitude better
    So why no corresponding rise in speed limits?
    because the plod and the control freaks find speed an easy target for enforcement
    Better standards of driving and better roads would do far more to reduce the number of road deaths than this focus of slowing us down
    state highways of two or more lanes could easily and safely have a speed limit of 125 kph or more
    The present habit of varying speed limits wildly from 100 to 80 to 70 and back again only creates opportunity for plod s to tax us with stupid fines

    ps three speeding fines in thirty three years of driving
    one for doing 110 on the motorway at 11pm on a sunday nite
    one for doing 90 in a 80 zone on the waiuku rd past the school on a Sunday
    And one for doing 60 in a 50 zone back in the days of the mt roskill traffic department

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  14. jims_whare (398 comments) says:

    Perhaps Ms Williams would support returning to the old method of having someone walk in front of each car waving a red flag – this would guarantee the road toll would drop over night (apart from silly old grannies who might run over their flag bearer by accident)

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  15. RRM (9,445 comments) says:

    And I never get tired of reading the sorry tales of woe from people who can’t regulate their speed and then blame Mr Plod for this.

    (The legal limit is displayed beside the road in large black lettering with a huge red ring around it. Your current speed is displayed on an instrument conveniently located directly in front of the driver’s seat of your vehicle. Keep your speed “A” at or below speed limit “B” and you really can’t go wrong! ;-) )

    Disclosure: Zero speeding tickets and two speed camera tickets after 17 years of driving.

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  16. Sean (299 comments) says:

    Sadly the authorities here have reduced the limit, so its now only 140kph on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi road instead of 160kph. Of course, the fixed radar tolerance remains 20kph…

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  17. RRM (9,445 comments) says:

    jims_whare –

    Road rules don’t evolve in a vacuum – believe it or not many of them (even ones like the flag thing that seem ridiculous in this day and age) evolved in response to something.

    In the case of the flag bearer walking in front of the car, that was in response to the shocking crash statistics of motor cars in Victorian/Edwardian England.

    At one stage motor vehicle crashes were responsible for 5,000 deaths in a calendar year, at a time when there were only 10,000 registered motor cars on the roads.

    It’s important to have an appreciation of where historical rules and laws come from – it’s all to easy to say
    “I don’t understand that, so it MUST be crap, let’s throw it out immediately!”

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  18. slijmbal (1,211 comments) says:

    @RRM the thread is not about breaking the speed limit – it’s about what is an appropriate limit

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  19. RRM (9,445 comments) says:

    @slijmbal – absolutely!

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  20. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    RRM>And I never get tired of reading the sorry tales of woe from people who can’t regulate their speed and then blame Mr Plod for this.

    Translated in to Cartman-speak: “Respect mah authoritay!”

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  21. tvb (4,202 comments) says:

    Cars are a lot safer and so are roads so the speed can be raised to about 125km/h on some roads. This limit needs to be well sign posted. The Police tend to place cameras on poorly sign posted speed limits where there are no road safety concerns. Obviously the objective is to raise revenue with such policies.

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  22. slijmbal (1,211 comments) says:

    @RRM

    then why?

    “And I never get tired of reading the sorry tales of woe from people who can’t regulate their speed and then blame Mr Plod for this.”

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  23. Alan Wilkinson (1,816 comments) says:

    I never tire of not doing something someone else wants me to do.

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  24. Michael (896 comments) says:

    In Australia I found the speed limits varied from section to section on the highways – a really good section had a 110km/h limit, but it dropped to 90km/h when there was an on-ramp or other hazard that you needed to slow down for. It meant you wear awake to potential hazards as you approached them.

    The fastest I’ve legally gone is 130km/h on a motorway near Budapest. Lower standard than a NZ motorway but the Hungarians have a much higher road fatality rate than NZ.

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  25. RRM (9,445 comments) says:

    @ Slijmbal – count the number of grizzles about “police revenue-gathering” on this thread!

    @ Alan Wilkinson – interesting attitude! I had no idea that the laws of the land were like an a la carte menu, where you choose ones you want to apply to you, and leave the ones you don’t really fancy…?

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  26. nasska (10,659 comments) says:

    krazykiwi

    Alas, I haven’t had a lot of luck lately. Had a brace of road lice in lycra in my sights on Sunday but they must have suspected something as at the last moment they decided to try a new cross country route over the Rimutakas.

    That said I’ll never understand cyclists. They spend all their time squeezing themselves through the tightest of gaps so they can get to the front of the queue at traffic lights, then they act like I’m the inconsiderate bastard when I try to run them over.

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  27. slijmbal (1,211 comments) says:

    @RRM

    “@ Slijmbal – count the number of grizzles about “police revenue-gathering” on this thread! ”

    I did – none – someone did mention getting a ticket but the words about police revenue gathering never passed anyone’s keyboard. I think you are showing your own predilictions here.

    Did 193 km/h in Germany – not a great car and it was as fast as it could go.

    Surprisingly safe as the roads supported it.

    Had a fairly crappy jap hatchback when I 1st came to NZ and struggled to safely do 100 km/h on the old Auckland to Hamilton road in lots of places as it would randomly change lanes if you went too fast – awful handling.

    Having brought it up though RRP – But have you noticed how many radar wielding cop cars are on the roads that encourage faster driving – more lanes or away from bottlenecks – belies the argument that it’s a safety driven issue.

    Within 2km of where I live there is one traffic camera that is perfectly situated – down a long hill past a school on a main, straight road. There is another in a short dip, which causes cars to speed up naturally, nowhere near anything of danger or where there has never ever been an accident in the last 15 years to my knowledge. The latter caught my 70+ mother in law. Her 1st speeding ticket in 35 years. I believe there are some double standards in the way speeding is policed.

    Not a great receiver of speeding tickets myself I hasten to add and I don’t have a problem with their being speeding laws.

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  28. Viking2 (11,128 comments) says:

    Of course being fined doesn’t fix anyhting. Never has never will. Here’s my rule if I get fined. Select the amount and then
    1. make sure the comapny pays including deducting the GST.
    2.Make sure that I find a cashy job that equates to twice the fine.

    Never get mad, get even. You wanna take some of my money then I gonna get it back x3.

    Oh and sometimes I can find something that I like and that I can buy and call it a work expense so that helps keep the profit down as well.

    So in short the Govt. and its mothers little helkpers never come out on the right side of the ledger.
    Way to go.

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  29. Griff (6,749 comments) says:

    If you want maximum speed obtained
    est 230kmph on the takakinini straight in a hotted 327 torana
    Safe no law abiding no
    fun yes
    Ex boy racer from the seventies and early eighties
    Last drag race on eastern beach rd
    Blew the exhaust off of my 350 impala and managed to win vrs a 350 monaro. The next week they installed speed humps :sad:
    We were all young dumb and full of come once :twisted:

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  30. Martin Gibson (227 comments) says:

    Had a white-knuckle ride into Munich at 190kmh, with German then-girlfriend scrabbling in the centre console of her mum’s Mondeo for chewing gum or CDs, while these trajectories of destruction in the verge followed by a charcoaled hedgerows where Porches had missed turns and broken up like crashing planes, schnapps catching alight on impact.
    Surprising how much outward force there is even from gentle changes of direction let alone stops at that speed.

    Italy was slightly slower and far more frightening in those median stripless tunnels with crazy Italians, Mexico slower again and scarier again, especially on a motorbike. India scariest of all and people surprisingly calm about it. New Zealand, lots of roads too hairy for 100.

    Choose the roads where it’s not, raise the limits and patrol them. It’s great fun to drive a bit faster sometimes, but morons remain the mortal challenge.

    Won’t be long before there are drones looking at driving patterns and relaying them to cops. Would make me feel safer for a couple of years, at least until the robots *cue sci fi music*

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  31. orewa1 (428 comments) says:

    If every car was required to have a man walking in front of it waving a red flag, no accidents would be fatal!

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  32. Alan Wilkinson (1,816 comments) says:

    RRM, if you don’t break at least one law or regulation every day you must be brain dead. And if I can judge when and where the speed limit is too fast for safety, how come I can’t judge when it is slower than necessary?

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  33. Steve (North Shore) (4,499 comments) says:

    You may notice that the Speed Police are happy to sit hidden on the Hobsonville motorway, or the Silverdale motorway; also a quiet bit of Rosedale rd at 8.30am Sundays, but will they go down to Otara (sorry East Tamaki) and enforce 50K there? no way.
    The fine will never be paid and there are too many gangsters with guns and machetes

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  34. Elaycee (4,301 comments) says:

    “If every car was required to have a man walking in front of it waving a red flag, no accidents would be fatal!”

    Unless you run him over…. :D

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  35. pq (728 comments) says:

    I am cruising, dudes, cruising in the open limit
    and I can not see the signs, sometimes they say 120, then 100,
    then enter here dude small town its 80, then 50,
    wait thats a school yard and now its 40,
    then a flash light infra red at me to judge my speed to the next town,
    its infra red,
    this is how they photograph you

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  36. Johnboy (14,973 comments) says:

    I think they should raise the speed limit in Jaffaville to unlimited and get anything under 5 tonnes to keep right.

    Should do wonders for the IQ and GNP of the rest of us! :)

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  37. freemark (445 comments) says:

    220km/h for 30mins on the Autobahn approaching Frankfurt, in a rented diesel A6.. no problem as the other road users knew what they were doing.
    Apart from the head on and stationary object impacts, apparently the variation in same direction velocity is the problem.. and of course that our traffic police are in love with Victoria.
    Unfortunately there seems no way to separate good drivers in safe cars from idiots in spring chopped shit heaps, bring on the technology for vehicular control.. and fuck the revenue gatherers on SH 27 busting you at 115 overtaking a drunk fucker driving a van.

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  38. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    I want to see the return of limited speed zones and relaxed limits after say 10pm. To have to remain at 50km at 3 am on an empty road is retarded.

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  39. Brian Smaller (3,989 comments) says:

    At $2.20-something for 91, driving at 100kph is a whole lot cheaper for me than driving at 110kph.

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  40. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    Brian,

    Some people like to expend their earnings staring at a Steelfort sculpture. Others out of the exhaust pipe.

    I figure that art appreciation always affords more time for your hard earner dollar.

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  41. andretti (127 comments) says:

    Fifteen or so years ago I had a rover vitesse going down to Cromwell one night I was doing 220kph,fuck it was great not a car in sight,got there in quick time.Would not try it now but only because i wont pay those fuckers any of my money if i get caught.
    I know all the mamby pambies will decry this but I dont GAF.

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  42. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    Ok, since this is about member size comparisons…. I have a, um, friend who saw 200km/h on Cobham Drive in Wellington and a 0->260km/h->0 breathtaking few seconds near some airbase outside Auckland. Both cars. Cobham Drive is only a few hundred meters long. Anyway he’s older, wiser and grateful for being alive these days.

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  43. infused (636 comments) says:

    I drive @ 120km/hr every day and will continue to do so. It’s the drivers that cause accidents, not speed.

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  44. Jeff83 (771 comments) says:

    Its dangerous doing direct comparisons. The roads in UK / Europe are significantly better than nearly all of the roads in NZ. The only exception I can think of is the very north and south bits of the motorway going in and out of Auckland.

    Additionally the average car in Europe is much safer (newer / European safety features) vs. New Zealand.

    Finally NZ on average are the worst drivers I have met (subjective but a common view of expats over here).

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  45. eszett (2,333 comments) says:

    Austria has no limits also. It is a real pleasure driving on their autobahns.

    Austria has a strict 130 limit.
    And they love catching speeding foreigners, especially Germans.

    They even chase you in Porsche.

    Nothing like the Italians though. They chase you in style:

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  46. Mark (1,360 comments) says:

    How long has gill been harping on this issue? Waste of time, not going to happen.

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  47. meh (165 comments) says:

    eszett, I hate to break the news to you but this happened a while back..

    http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01534/car_1534502c.jpg

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  48. cubit (356 comments) says:

    Most of our roads are just suitable for sustained high speed driving. There are a number of good short stretches but nothing like the endless stretches of European motorways/autobahns etc. The Germans have a interesting approach to speed limits. on those roads where there is an openm limit transgressions are assessed onm the base as to whether your speed was appropriate for the prevauiling conditions.

    Our real problem are the mindless drivers who do not want to travwel at anything like the legal maximum and feel a real sense of entitlement to drive as slow as they like and not give a hoot for any one else who might just want to drive at the legal limit.

    Try Levin to Wellington at any time.

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  49. slijmbal (1,211 comments) says:

    “Austria has a strict 130 limit.
    And they love catching speeding foreigners, especially Germans.

    They even chase you in Porsche.”

    In Holland 20+ years ago they used to have open top Porsches in a dayglo colour from memory – so the drivers wore capes and goggles ala Biggles. Hilarious.

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  50. Nicola Rowe (12 comments) says:

    The 130 km/h guideline (Richtwert) in Germany isn’t binding, but most autobahns, except in the north and east, are subject to speed limits that have been imposed by the federal states, so you actually end up driving on a regulated road. There, as here, one rule trumps all others: you have to drive so that you’re always in control of your vehicle, and so that your speed is adapted to the conditions (§3 Straßenverkehrsordnung, which is the German Road Code.)

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  51. Griff (6,749 comments) says:

    My brother got a ticket on the desert road in the early eighties
    he thought that the dude in the rs2000 escort wanted to race
    his hotted sunbeam rapier
    The cops have used the hot car trick in NZ
    And still do the other day I passed a radar van complete with black paint tints spoiler and skinny mags

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  52. Colville (2,079 comments) says:

    Just making the limit 90 in the left lane of a passing lane would help a lot.

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  53. cubit (356 comments) says:

    Colville,

    I am with you on that completely.

    It would also help (and at low cost) to erect more speed limit signs, particulary on the outskirts of smaller towns simply to remind people as to what the limit is. Plces like Te Aroha, Oamaru and Dannevirke have 50km zones that go for ever and drivers make the uninformed error of believing that the outer boondocks of these places must have higher max speeds. A few signs to remind would help.

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