Please help us get traffic speeds that puts New Zealanders’ safety first! Make a quick submission by 5pm Friday, June 16…
NZTA is updating NZ’s speed-limit setting rule, but it is unwilling to put New Zealanders’ safety first. This is a missed opportunity to make our roads safer, more livable, vibrant and efficient.
Instead NZTA continues to require that speed limits to be “safe and appropriate“. This initially sounds good, who doesn’t want safer streets? And it’s appropriate for traffic to go more slowly on streets where we live, shop, and travel to school. Unfortunately, we know there’s a nasty fish hook in the phrase “safe and appropriate“. NZTA’s rule defines “appropriate” as “optimising efficiency outcomes” which NZTA then defines as “economic productivity”.
This creates a flawed trade-off between safety and speed because it results in dangerous roads with no evidence of increased efficiency nor economic productivity.
You can help!…
Please email: email@example.com by 5pm, Friday June 16 requesting that the Setting of Speed Limits Rule adopts a “safety first” approach by requiring speed limits to be “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 reduce NZ’s appalling road toll.
This approach has proven to work well in countries like Germany, Sweden, Netherlands,Norway and Denmark who now have roads that are both safer and more efficient than New Zealand’s.
Submission on the draft Setting of Speed Limits rule 
We are impressed by the Government’s various initiatives to deliver new cycle trails and pathways across the country in conjunction with local communities. This is enabling more walking and cycling, however traffic speeds are a major concern:
- Speed contributes to 30% of fatal crashes in NZ[i]. Speed is a factor in every crash, as it determines the severity of the impact and is the primary cause of resulting injuries/deaths
- NZ has one of the highest rates of road deaths in the world, up to four times that of Northern European countries
- By OECD standards, New Zealand’s roads are unforgiving yet we also have the highest speed limits for urban and rural roads:
|Comparison of speed limits between
Northern Europe and NZ
|Northern Europe||New Zealand|
|Urban streets||30 – 40 km/h||Mostly 50 km/h but some 60 km/h|
|Rural roads (one lane each way, no separation, minimal shoulder)||60 – 80 km/h||Mostly 100 km/h, some 80km/h|
If we want to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on New Zealand’s roads then reducing speed is the most critical place to start. As Auckland Transport’s website states: “Speed is the single biggest road safety issue in NZ today.”[ii]
That’s why the new Speed Limit Setting rule is so important: It maintains a fundamental flaw in the current rule that prohibits a ‘safety first’ approach to speed limit setting. Instead, the rule requires traffic speed to be “safe and appropriate”. The requirement to be “appropriate” is defined by the rule as “optimises efficiency outcomes” which NZTA describes as “economic productivity”.
This creates a trade-off between safety and efficiency/economic productivity which is flawed because:
1) It means more people die on our roads. We know that speed is the single biggest road safety issue in NZ today.
2) It deters people from walking and cycling. This means more people are forced to use their vehicles resulting in greater congestion, obesity, pollution, carbon emissions and spending on roading.
3) There is no evidence of a link between traffic speeds and efficiency/economic productivity. If there was such a link between traffic speeds and efficiency/economic productivity then the countries with safer speeds of 30km/h urban and 60 – 80km/h rural roads such as Sweden, Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark would have road networks with less efficiency/economic productivity than NZ. Conversely there is evidence that reduced traffic speeds increase network efficiency due to greater numbers of crashes and improved traffic flows at intersections. NZTA’s ramp metering is a good example of how slowing traffic increases overall network efficiency.
4) International best practice adopts a “safety first” approach and the trend is to speed limits of 30km/h urban streets and 60 – 80km/h rural roads. The benefits are broad and the disadvantages are only to those people who like to drive fast. We recommend such disadvantaged people join a motor sport club for the appropriate environment to drive fast.
5) A guiding principle of NZ’s Health and Safety at Work Act is that people in the workplace should be given the highest level of protection against harm as is reasonably practicable. There is no trade-off to optimise “efficiency” or “economic productivity”. Why is this same protection not afforded to people on our roads? Every year 40 – 60 people are killed in the workplace, however 300 – 400 are killed on our roads. It is time for a ‘safety first’ approach to speed management.
Make a submission to NZTA by 5pm, Friday, June 16 on email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Request that the Setting of Speed Limits rule requirement for “safe and appropriate speed limits” is 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 Speed Management Guide, and will reduce NZ’s appalling road toll.
[i] MoT’s Speed 2014 report which defined speed as “driving too fast for the conditions”
[ii] Direct quote from Auckland Transport’s website: https://at.govt.nz/driving-parking/safer-communities-roads-schools/road-safety/speeding/