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Call for lower speed limit 'misguided'

Call for lower speed limit 'misguided', says safety campaigner

Lowering the speed limit will not reduce the road toll, says the car review website dogandlemon.com.

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an outspoken road safety campaigner, was commenting after a call by a top policeman to lower the speed limit.

“The definition of insanity is to repeat the same mistake and expect a different result. For years, the police have been telling us that rigid enforcement of speed limits would lower the road toll. In fact, it’s gone up. When are they going to admit they got it wrong?”

Matthew-Wilson says the police anti-speeding campaign was based on the false assumption that lowering the speed of the average driver would reduce the road toll.

“In fact, the government’s own statistics show that the average driver was never the problem.”

“About 80% of the road toll occurs below, not above, the speed limit. Of the 20% of accidents that occur above the speed limit, almost all are caused by either yobbos, impaired drivers or outlaw motorcyclists.”

A 2009 AA analysis of fatal accidents stated:

“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 110km/h ticketing threshold.”

Matthew-Wilson adds:

“The government and the police deliberately misrepresent reality by defining speeding as: ‘driving too fast for the conditions’. So, any accident where someone loses control is defined almost automatically as a speeding accident, even though the driver may have been driving cautiously and be well below the speed limit.”

“The police rationale, that ticketing a mum who’s taking the kids on holiday, is going to somehow stop yobbos offending, is simply nonsense. There is no connection between the two types of driving.”

“The police obsession with speed draws attention away from the other critical issues that affect the road toll, such as roads without median barriers or roundabouts. If the police were serious about lowering the road toll, they’d call for an urgent upgrade of New Zealand’s Third World roading system.”

“Two of the worst accidents in the last week involved cars colliding head-on. The government’s own studies show that median barriers on roads are highly effective at stopping this type of collision, yet the majority of New Zealand roads allow cars to collide without warning.”

A study by Monash University of the effectiveness of roadside fencing and median barriers concluded that: “reductions of up to 90% in death and serious injury can be achieved, with no evidence of increased road trauma for motorcyclists.”

“Intersections are another major cause of road deaths. Roundabouts are highly effective at stopping collisions, but they are rarely installed on our highways, mainly because the trucking industry hates them.”

Matthew-Wilson adds:

“Many of New Zealand's roads are like a staircase without a handrail: you make a mistake, you're going to get hurt. Upgrading these deadly roads is the single most important step in lowering the road toll.”

Matthew-Wilson gave the example of the Auckland harbour bridge, which used to suffer one serious accident a week.

“Multiple attempts were made to improve the standard of driving on the harbour bridge, and they all failed. Eventually the authorities built a concrete barrier between the opposing lanes of traffic, and the serious accidents virtually stopped overnight. There wasn’t one less idiot on the road, but the road had been changed in a way that prevented simple mistakes becoming fatalities.”


ends

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