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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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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.

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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.

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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.

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