The open road speed limit

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.


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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