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Government speed report lacks scientific credibility

The Speed Reference Group Outcomes Report, which supports drastically lower speed limits across the country, is based on highly dubious science, says the car review website dogandlemon.com.

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an outspoken road safety campaigner, says:

“The MOT report assumes that the average driver’s speed is the main problem. This assumption has no scientific credibility at all. The vast majority of speed-related fatalities occur to a tiny group of yobbos, motorcyclists and impaired drivers. Targeting the average driver won't work because the average driver is not the problem."

A 2009 summary of 300 accidents by the Automobile Association concluded:

..” government advertising suggests you should be grateful to receive a speeding ticket because it will save your life. In fact, exceeding speed limits aren’t a major issue. Police surveying has found that even the top 15% of open-road speeders average under the [then] 110km/h ticketing threshold…

"… Nor is it true that middle-New Zealand drivers creeping a few kilometres over the limit on long empty straights dominate the road toll.

"Only one in six fatal crashes were reported over the speed limit – and they were well over… it is apparent that [these fatal crashes] were caused by people who don’t care about any kind of rules. These are men who speed, drink, don’t wear safety belts, have no valid licence or WoF – who are basically renegades. They usually end up wrapped around a tree, but they can also overtake across a yellow line and take out other motorists as well.

"… Then there are alcohol-related fatal crashes…Most were well over the limit and most involved speed or renegades or both.”

Matthew-Wilson says the assumption of the MOT report – that lower speed limits will prevent speed-related crashes – is contradicted by direct recent evidence.

“The country has suffered a string of dreadful accidents involving a combination of speed, alcohol and other drugs, yet the MOT report makes no mention of drugs or alcohol whatsoever. Drunk or drugged drivers don’t read speed signs.”

Matthew-Wilson gave several recent examples of fatal accidents around Auckland:

In late 2017, 20-year-old Farshad Bahadori Esfehani killed an innocent taxi driver when his Mercedes ran a red light in central Auckland. Esfehani was drunk.

In May of last year, 15-year-old Nathan Kraatskow was cycling on Oteha Valley Rd when he was knocked off his bike and killed by 18-year-old Rouxle Le Roux. Le Roux, who was on her learner’s licence, had been drinking and smoking marijuana before she hit Kraatskow. She and her friends then left Kraatskow dying at the scene.

On May 26, about 2.30am on Queen Street, a cyclist was hit and killed by a Honda Logo hatchback. The car driver was drunk and fled the scene before being caught by police.

Matthew-Wilson adds:

“I could fill a page with similar examples. Yet there is no explanation in the MOT report as to how a lower speed limit would have prevented these types of accidents.”

Matthew-Wilson also criticised claims that lowered speed limits in cities, by themselves, reduced road trauma.

“In almost every case I’ve studied, the major factor in reducing road trauma in urban areas was engineering, such as speed bumps, chicanes, raised pedestrian crossings, protected pedestrian and cyclist zones and improved road markings.”

“Studies have shown that simply lowering the speed limit may not make any positive difference. Yet the advocates for lower speeds ignore these vital engineering changes and claim that the lowered speeds, by themselves, solved the road safety problem. As the Auckland examples demonstrate, this is simply wishful thinking.”

"Few motorists are opposed to speed limits being lowered on high-risk sections of road. However, the current attempt to lower speed limits on a large percentage of the country's roads is clearly based on ideology rather than credible scientific research."

See also: https://dogandlemon.com/media/government-risks-voter-backlash-over-lowered-speed-limits

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