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ACRS Calls For Evidence-based Speed Management On New Zealand Roads

The Australasian College of Road Safety (ACRS) is advocating for an agreed and evidence-based approach to setting speed limits, as New Zealand moves to revise its speed management policies.

New Zealand's road fatality rates remain alarmingly high, ranking 29th out of 35 OECD countries in 2022. Despite common perceptions, many fatalities result from everyday drivers making simple mistakes on undivided roads at high speeds.

Research shows that speed management can significantly reduce road casualties. For instance, Auckland's Safe Speeds Programme led to a 30% reduction in fatalities, while similar measures in rural Waikato achieved comparable results.

Speed limits often stir debate, with concerns about slower travel times and productivity losses. However, studies reveal that overall travel times remain consistent due to natural driving patterns around intersections and corners.

In addition, road crashes cost New Zealand approximately $10 billion annually in lost productivity. Protecting young lives, who are disproportionately affected by road crashes, is essential for maintaining long-term productivity.

Effective speed management must reflect the context of the road. Slower limits near schools and shopping centres protect pedestrians and cyclists, while higher speed roads require limits that prevent fatal and severe injury head-on crashes. Credible and believable speed limits are crucial for public adherence and overall road safety.

To reduce road trauma and fatalities, New Zealand must embrace safer speed limits, aligned with road conditions. This the most cost-effective means to reduce road trauma.

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Enforcement alone is not enough; a holistic approach involving the entire system - including safer vehicles, roads, users, and speed limits - is necessary. The ACRS advocates for sustained, evidence-based monitoring and adjustment of speed limits to ensure ongoing improvement in road safety.

Reversing successful speed limits, particularly in areas where communities have requested them, would be a step backward and likely lead to increased road deaths and injuries.

The evidence is clear: appropriately set and enforced speed limits save lives. It is imperative to maintain and build upon these successful measures to protect New Zealanders on the road.

© Scoop Media

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