110 km/hr is sensible for good roads

August 21st, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Drivers’ appetite for a 110kmh speed limit is ramping up.

An AA report on attitudes to speed found the number of members who want to increase the open road speed limit to 110kmh has reached a strong majority.

Support for increasing the speed limit on top-rated motorways has risen steadily since 2013, from 44 per cent of members to 71 per cent.

The report was compiled from a number of AA member surveys and polls over the past four years.

A 110kmh limit has been considered for more than a year for motorways built as part of the Government’s Roads of National Significance programme.

The roads that could qualify would be flat, straight, have at least two lanes in each direction, a median barrier and good shoulder space.

They seem like sensible criteria.

The proposed 110kmh speed limit was about as fast as many people could imagine themselves driving, the report found.

AA asked members how fast they would go if there were no speed limits. Men would go as fast as 115kmh, while woman peaked at 105kmh. 

Depends. On a good road with a good car, I find 120 km/hr is a pretty good speed


Match speeds to risk

May 22nd, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald editorial:

The speed limit on any road should be appropriate to its design and condition, not the subject of a default 100km/h setting. Therefore, a good case can be made for increasing the limit on many of the country’s motorways to 110km/h. And so, too, and even more strongly, can a case be made for lowering it on many of our two-lane rural roads. The latter are, after all, the scene of a high proportion of the fatal and serious crashes in New Zealand every year.

Such was not the case last weekend when 10 people died on the roads. But that did not diminish the good sense in the call by road policing chief Assistant Commissioner Dave Cliff for some rural roads to have lower speed limits. He was reacting not to one bad weekend but to a problem that has been apparent for years and has not been tackled effectively.

As Mr Cliff suggests, many country roads, especially those with winding stretches, are simply not designed to be travelled at 100km/h. Many drivers do not have the skills or the required concentration to traverse them with a high degree of safety.

Best international practice, said Mr Cliff, would dictate that the limit should be 70 to 80km/h. At that speed, the chances of a crash being survivable would be much increased.

Some roads such as the Rimutaka Hill Road are very dangerous to do at 100 km/hr. Same with the road to Makara. Likewise many roads are safe for modern cars at 110 or 120 km/hr. I’m all for road speed limits being set based on the characteristics of each individual road.

Little supports zero tolerance for speeding

January 14th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little labelled the review “flakey”.

Police needed time to investigate the circumstances of each accident, before leaping to any conclusions, he said. 

“[For Woodhouse] to go onto a talk-back show and get roasted and decide you are going to do something then it looks, frankly, just a little bit flakey to me,” Little said.

“If there is a debate about whether there should be a more varied range of speed limits – some open roads can accommodate 110km per hour and some can’t – that is a separate debate and we should have that at some point.

“But I am a little bit uncomfortable about this climbing into the police for enforcing the speed limits.”

Little backed police, saying he saw no problem in  “sending a signal when you know that there are peak travel times, saying that you are going to strictly enforce the law.”

So Labour’s policy is that you should be ticketed for driving at 101km/hr in a 100 km/hr zone if it is a holiday period!

Looks like zero tolerance to no longer be tolerated

January 13th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Police Minister Michael Woodhouse announced:

Police Minister Michael Woodhouse has asked New Zealand Police to undertake a review of the public messages that underpinned the 2014/15 Summer Road Safety campaign.

“While I firmly support Police’s zero tolerance for poor driving behaviour that can lead to death and injury on our roads, I also support the application of discretion as articulated in the 4kph summer tolerance used in fixed speed cameras and the vast majority of mobile devices,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“I have received considerable public feedback that the speed tolerance message was confusing which has led to some strong public opinions.


Considerable public feedback that the public don’t like having to check their speedos every 30 seconds to check they’re not 1 km/hr over the limit.

Good to see the Government listen to the public on this. Would have been better if they had told the Police early on it was a bad idea.

“While this is very much an operational matter for Police, I will be taking a close interest in ensuring the message about road safety is clear and unambiguous.

I predict the Police will reach the same conclusion as the Minister, and decide to get rid of the zero tolerance policy. If not, then they need a bollocking.

Herald on speed tolerance

January 7th, 2015 at 6:38 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald editorial:

Speed, however, has remained a vexed issue. Hence there has been a progressive lowering of the police’s tolerance, culminating in the zero tolerance policy. This has been criticised by many motorists. Some of their complaints are lame. Those who say it has resulted in them spending too much time with their eyes on their speedometers betray a fundamental lack of driving ability. Nonetheless, it is clear that the police must re-examine where they are enforcing the policy.

The Automobile Association is right when it suggests a focus on drivers doing just over the limit on safe urban motorways is not the best strategy. The scrutiny, it said, should be on speeding in higher-risk areas. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, motorways are, by and large, relatively safe, so much so that the speed limit may soon be raised to 110km/h on some of them. Secondly, there is no point in alienating generally good motorists who are caught slightly over the speed limit in such areas.


The Automobile Association was also on the right track when it suggested there should be an increased number of median barriers on highways. These, whether concrete, semi-rigid or cable, are not cheap. But they appeal as a means of curtailing the number of head-on crashes involving overseas tourists. The outcome of these impacts is generally more serious than other types of collisions. Improving the country’s roads in this manner offers the most rational response to what has become a notable problem.

I wonder what the impact on road safety would be if say 90% of the money that went on speed cameras and policing of the roads, was redirected to improving our current roads?

A fail for zero tolerance

January 5th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Critics have labelled a zero-speed-tolerance campaign a failure as the holiday road toll is more than double last year’s.

A crash in Christchurch this morning brought the number of the people to die on our roads this holiday period to 17. …

Throughout the holiday period police had a zero-tolerance campaign on speeding and also targeted drink-driving after lower limits were introduced last month.

But police were left dismayed at the role speed and alcohol played in the high toll.

“This is more than disappointing. It’s devastating that so many people have lost their lives these holidays and due to the same common factors,” road policing assistant commissioner Dave Cliff said.

“It is a bad decision to drive after drinking. It’s that simple.

“No-one can afford to not intervene and stop their family member or friend from getting behind the wheel after drinking.

“You may think it’s OK, we’ll be right and it won’t happen to them. But crashes are happening, people are getting seriously injured and people are dying.”

NZ First police spokesman Ron Mark said the toll was evidence the zero-tolerance speed campaign was a “failed experiment” and accused the police and the Government of “stealth taxation” via speeding fines.

“It has precious police resources sucked up making good drivers feel like criminals instead of focusing on those driving too fast, too slowly or too badly,” he said.

Drivers were anxious about being caught just over the limit, Mark said: “People are saying to me that instead of driving to the conditions, their eyes are darting from the speedo to road and back again and that every time they see a police car, they instinctively brake despite being well within the speed limit.”

Road-safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of The Dog and Lemon Guide, said the idea that heavy speed-limit enforcement would lower the road toll was “nonsense”.

He said 80 per cent of road deaths happened under the speed limit.

The remaining 20 per cent of fatalities were caused by high-risk drivers who were “almost exclusively yobbos, impaired drivers or motorcyclists – all of whom are basically immune to road safety messages”.

The zero tolerance policy just punished thousands of motorists for driving at 102 km/hr on a motorway. It made it impossible to legally pass a car doing 90 km/hr, so effectively slowed down all single lane roads.

The tolerance policy is an operational decision for Police, not the Government. However the Minister can tell the Police that he thinks it is a bad idea, and hopefully they will listen.

You need 2.4 km of clear road to now overtake

December 28th, 2014 at 7:40 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide does the calculations:

Overtaking on the road safely and within the law is now all but impossible.

The speed limit on the open road is 100km/h. The police are applying zero tolerance. You can now be ticketed at 101km/h. The speed limit for heavy vehicles and cars pulling caravans, boats or trailers is 90km/h.

Do the maths. In good driving conditions we are advised to apply the “two-second rule”. At 90km/h that’s 50m. So you pull out 50m behind a truck and trailer, the truck and trailer is 20m long and you pull in once safely 50m past. You have to make 120m to pass safely.

If the truck is doing 90km/h and you stick to 100km/h it takes 43 seconds to gain that 120m.

At 100km/h you will have travelled 1.2km. You must allow for a car coming towards you at 100km/h. To pass safely you need 2.4km of clear road.

This is why there is a tolerance – to allow for situations where it is sensible to temporarily exceed the speed limit.

No more tolerance

November 28th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Anyone exceeding the speed limit this summer can expect to be pulled over, regardless of whether there’s a 4kmh speed tolerance.

The warning comes as police move towards zero tolerance of speeding after a successful campaign last summer when fatalities dropped 22 per cent.

“Anything over the limit is speeding and anyone speeding can expect to be pulled over,” police assistant commissioner, road policing, Dave Cliff said

Yes we must target those criminals driving at 101 km/hr. Disgraceful people.

110 km/hr makes sense

November 25th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Government is warming to the idea of a 110kmh speed limit on the best roads – and has confirmed it is under serious consideration for several new motorways, including Transmission Gully.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said he would be open to discussions about raising the present 100kmh limit if the New Zealand Transport Agency felt there was a good case for it.

Ernst Zollner, the agency’s road safety director, confirmed yesterday it had been “mulling the idea for a good year at a strategic level”, after research from Monash University in Melbourne suggested it could be done without increasing the risk to motorists.

A 110kmh limit was being considered for motorways built as part of the Government’s roads of national significance programme, provided they were flat, straight, had two lanes in each direction, a median barrier and good shoulder space.

Candidates included the Transmission Gully motorway and Kapiti Expressway in the Wellington region, the Waikato Expressway, the Tauranga Eastern Link and the Northern Gateway toll road north of Auckland, Zollner said.


If we have good enough roads, such as the ones above, then 110 km/hr is a more sensible limit.

Australia and Canada have motorway limits of 110kmh, while Britain’s is 70mph, or about 113kmh.

And speed limits in the US are as high as 130 km/hr in some states. France is up to 130 km/hr, Germany has no limit.


A 110 km/hr speed limit?

September 18th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

Open-road speed limits could vary by up to 50km/h under a new classification system signalled to traffic engineers in Auckland.

Transport Agency safety manager Helen Climo told the Traffic Institute at its annual conference yesterday that a new rule should be finalised by the end of next year allowing speeds of up to 110km/h on a small number of well-engineered highways and motorways.

The Government has made no decisions on this, but I hope they do increase the limit on roads with good enough engineering to allow a higher limit.

A 110 km/hr speed limit

August 11th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Motorists are calling for a major rethink of speed limits – including raising the top limit to 110kmh on the safest motorways.

The Automobile Association, which represents 1.3 million drivers, says a move to 110kmh should become a priority after this year’s election.

It also wants limits reduced on highways that are not equipped to handle 100kmh traffic, such as the steep and winding Rimutaka Hill Road.

AA motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon said too many “inconsistencies” had crept into New Zealand’s speed zones, which was confusing well-intentioned drivers and seeing them get caught for speeding.

The association wanted fair, consistent and predictable speed limits across the board.

If some motorways had been designed for 110kmh traffic, then the limit should reflect that, he said.

But it should apply only to flat, straight stretches of motorway with two lanes in each direction, a median barrier and good shoulder space. “It won’t be an enormous amount of roads,” Noon said.

I agree. 110 km/hr is a common speed limit overseas for well designed motorways. The speed limit should reflect the road conditions.

National road policing manager Superintendent Carey Griffiths would not be drawn on whether speed limits should go up or down, but said they needed to reflect the risk and functions of a particular road.


Featherston man Nick Burt, who drives the Rimutaka Hill Road about four times a week, favoured scaling back the speed limit there to 80kmh.

You’re crazy if you drive that road at 100 km/hr. I agree it should be lower, as should the road to Makara.

Speed limits in Wellington

January 17th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Katie Chapman at Stuff reports:

A central-city slowdown is looming for Wellington motorists as a 30kmh speed limit is considered for a further 64 streets.

Public feedback will be sought next month on a proposal to extend the 30kmh speed limit from the Golden Mile to the rest of the central business district, where the limit is now 50kmh.

The change would cost about $250,000, and include parts of The Terrace and Taranaki, Tory, Willis, Featherston, Ghuznee and Dixon streets. The harbour quays and Vivian St would not be included.

I’m not necessarily opposed to this.

I consistently say speed limits should reflect conditions. Some roads are safe to drive at 120 km/hr on, some open roads should not be driven at over 70 km/hr (such as to Makara), and within a city some roads are safe at 70 km/hr and some at 30 km/hr.

Wellington is a very compact city and with lots of pedestrians. Major access roads such as the harbour quays should have higher speed limits, but many of the short roads should not.

In the end decisions on speed limits should be based on data such as how many accidents occur on them, the length and straightness of the road, pedestrian use, and actual speeds traveled at the moment.

The Press on open road speed limits

April 1st, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

For as long as many people can remember, the open-road speed limit for driving in this country has not changed. It has not increased significantly since the late 1960s when it was raised, under the old imperial system, from 55 miles per hour to 60mph – the equivalent of 96kmh, so not significantly different than the 100kmh that applies today on highways and motorways.

Umm, that is missing out a big chunk of history. The open road limit may have been 60 miles per hours, but in 1973 due to oil shocks, it dropped to 80 km/hr or 50 miles/hr.

It was only in 1986 it went to 100 km/hr.

So far from the open road limit rarely changing, the changes have been:

  • 1962 – from 50 mph to 55 mph
  • 1969 – from 55 mph to 60 mph
  • 1973 – from 60 mph to 50 mph or 80 kmh
  • 1986 – from 80 kmh to 100 kmh

Consider the cars that Kiwis were driving when the speed limit was last raised.

There is a world of difference between the engineering and safety standards of 21st-century cars and the likes of the Morris Minor, the original Mini, the Ford Cortina, the Holden Kingswood, the Rover 2000 and the Hillman Imp. Road engineering, too, has improved during those decades. Seen in this context, a proposal to raise the limit by only 10kmh on a relatively small number of top roads can be seen as very modest.

The difference in car safety and engineering is massive.

The speed limit is a maximum, not a target, and the rules – so often observed mainly in the breach – state that people should drive at a speed under the limit that is appropriate to the road, traffic, weather and other conditions.

If the speed limit is increased on engineered motorways, this should not be taken as an indication to drive at 110km on the open road or rural highways, where a 110kmh speed limit would not be appropriate.

Yep – drive the the conditions. Sometimes that will be 110 km/h and sometimes 70 km/h.

110 km/hr speed limit?

March 28th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Michael Forbes at Stuff reports:

Speed limits should be bumped up to 110kmh on the newest and safest roads, the Automobile Association says – and the Government is not ruling out the idea.

The suggestion comes as the Government announces it will review speed limits up and down the country over the next three years as part of its Safer Journeys action plan.

Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse would not rule out increasing the 100kmh maximum speed limit as part of the review, but he felt such a move was unlikely to happen soon. Police say they are open to discussion.

AA motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon said nudging up the speed limit by 10kmh on some roads could reduce congestion and improve productivity by ensuring the quicker movement of freight.

The type of road best suited to a 110kmh limit would be divided, four-lane motorways that have been built to KiwiRap four-star status, such as the northern gateway toll road north of Auckland.

This seems very sensible to me, and I’m glad the Government is not ruling it out.

I recall the open road limit going from 80 to 100, and that was a good thing.

Since then car technology and safety has improved significantly, as have the quality of some of the new roads. The idea of having it apply only on our best safest motorways also seems sensible. It is obvious to me that there are some roads where it is quite safe to drive at 110 km/hr – there are also some roads where you are a lunatic if you drive at over 70 km/hr even though the legal limit is 110 km/hr.

The speed you drive at should always be dependent on the conditions and may change from minute to minute.

New Zealand has one of the strictest speed regimes. Australia, Canada and France all have motorway limits of 110kmh, while Britain’s is 70mph, or about 113kmh.

Yep, NZ is one of the lowest.

On Germany’s autobahns, there are no speed limits, although drivers are advised to stay under 130kmh.

And Austria!

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 speed limit 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.

Speed Limiters for cars

December 31st, 2008 at 12:34 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports from Reuters:

Cars should be fitted with devices to regulate their speed to cut fatal accidents by a quarter, a UK government advisory body said.

The UK Commission for Integrated Transport and the Motorists’ Forum said the voluntary use of so-called intelligent speed adaption would cut 40,000 road deaths over a 60-year period.

The proposed system would automatically slow the engine and apply the brakes to keep a car within local speed limits, although the driver would be able to override the limiter.

It said the limiters would also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 6 per cent on roads where cars go at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour.

The commission called on the UK’s Department of Transport to start building a database of road speed limit maps which would be needed to operate the system.

Are these people stupid? Every GPS vehicle device in the UK already has a database of speed limit maps. MY GPS has it for UK, France and NZ. So if they are ignorant of this fact, how much can we trust them on anything else?

Also note the 40,000 road deaths are over 60 years, so that is 667 a year out of a population of 60 million or around 1 in 100,000.

Personally I think the future will have GPS fitted in almost every car, and a cruise control option so that it can cruise at the maximum speed. The anti-collision technology is some way off, but we already have parts of it with the beeping as you reverse if you are about to hit something.

Tizard rules out dropping the speed limit

May 8th, 2008 at 8:58 am by David Farrar

Judith Tizard, as Associate Transport Minister, has ruled out any chance of dropping the speed limit to reduce carbon emissions. Good. Nice to see a firm decision from the Minister.

Officials look at reducing the speed limit

May 7th, 2008 at 9:19 am by David Farrar

Government officials are looking at reducing the speed limit to reduce carbon emissions. They have estimated a reduction in the speed limit from 100 km/h to 90 km/h will reduce oil demand by 1.4%.

Hell, why stop there. A maximum 20 km/hr limit will do wonders for reducing oil demand.