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Time for traffic speeds that put NZers’ safety first

June 15, 2017

Media release:

Time for traffic speeds that put New Zealanders’ safety first

NZTA is updating the country’s speed-limit setting rule but is unwilling to put New Zealanders' safety first.
Instead NZTA continues to require that speed limits be a compromise between safety and efficiency [Definitions, Part 2 of the proposed Setting of Speed Limits Rule [2017] requirement to optimise “efficiency outcomes”].

This has resulted in New Zealand having the highest traffic speeds and worst rates of road deaths amongst OECD nations.

Comparison between
Northern Europe and NZ
Northern EuropeNew Zealand
Urban street speed limits30 – 40 km/h50 km/h
Rural road speed limits (one lane each way, minimal shoulder)60 – 80 km/hMostly 100 km/h
Road deaths per 100,000 population pa:3.57

Patrick Morgan of Cycling Action Network says “We have been very impressed by the Government’s recent investment in cycle trails and pathways which is getting more Kiwis active. However traffic speeds are a major concern for us.

“In the last 12 months, 37 pedestrians and 10 cyclists have been killed on NZ roads [Source: https://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/road-deaths/toll.html], that’s a 60% increase over the previous 12 months which demands our urgent attention.

“Countries such as Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, Norway and Denmark have urban and rural speed limits lower that New Zealand, this is a key reason why their road deaths per capita are half ours. And instead of reducing efficiency, it can be argued their safer speeds improve efficiency due to fewer crashes, intersections flow more smoothly and more people feel safe to choose walking and cycling.”

Andy Smith of Living Streets Aotearoa says “We can save lives by reducing traffic speeds, to quote Auckland Transport ‘Speed is the single biggest road safety issue in NZ today.’ [Auckland Transport’s website: https://at.govt.nz/driving-parking/safer-communities-roads-schools/road-safety/speeding/]

“Hence we’re urging NZTA to amend their draft Setting of Speed Limits rule to require speed limits that are ‘safe as is reasonably practicable given the road function, design, users and the surrounding land use’. This aligns with NZ's Health and Safety in the Workplace legislation, NZTA’s Speed Management Guide, and will help reduce our appalling road toll.

We encourage all New Zealanders to make a quick submission [Submission can be made online: https://www.nzta.govt.nz/about-us/consultations/setting-of-speed-limits-rule/] for a safety-first approach to Speed Limits by 5pm, Friday June 16.”


Background information:

Submissions on the Setting of Speed Limits Rule can be emailed to NZTA: rules@nzta.govt.nz by 5pm, Friday, June 16.

Movement has submitted that the Setting of Speed Limits rule requirement for "safe and appropriate speed limits" be changed to require speed limits that are “safe as is reasonably practicable given the road function, design, users and the surrounding land use” - this aligns with NZ's Health and Safety in the Workplace legislation, NZTA’s Speed Management Guide, and will help reduce NZ’s appalling road toll.

Learn more at:




Movement is a national campaign endorsed by Living Streets Aotearoa,
Cycle Action Network, SkyPath Trust and NZ School Speeds.

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