Over the weekend, National announced plans to restore the speed limit on many of New Zealand’s State Highways back to 100km/h and local roads to 50km/h.
Both party leader Christopher Luxon and transport spokesperson Simeon Brown also promised that the speed limit on new highways, like Transmission Gully and the Kapiti Expressway, would be raised to 110km/h.
The changes would counteract blanket speed reductions made by Labour in the name of road safety during its six-year tenure, which saw limits on State Highways across the country drop to 80km/h and main centres to 30km/h.
“It makes no sense to have roads that can safely accommodate higher speed limits, only to require motorists to drive more slowly,” says Brown.
“The reductions which were part of Labour’s expensive ‘Road to Zero’ road safety campaign, have not worked. The road toll was 350 in 2019 when ‘Road to Zero’ was introduced, and it rose to 374 last year.”
In late 2022, Auckland Transport (AT) spent $33 million on changing the speed limit on over 1600 roads across the nation’s largest city as part of its Safe Speeds Programme, most of which were reduced.
According to The New Zealand Herald, Brown says subsidies for AT and other councils’ road safety schemes would be stopped.
This “anti-car ideology” as National describes it would also end under its Government if it gets elected later this year. The party claims that the reduced speed limits have had too much of an impact on the economy, such as increasing travel times.
In addition to restoring speed limits, National says it will require contractors such as roadworkers to minimise the use of temporary speed limit reductions when workers are off-site.
“We will also reduce the use of road cones and limit temporary speed restrictions where they are not justified,” says Brown.
“Temporary traffic management keeps roadside workers and motorists safe during construction or maintenance activities. However, excessive use of road cones and speed limit reductions – sometimes left in force when work is complete – simply slow traffic and frustrate drivers, without improving safety.”
Reduced variable speed limits around schools during pick up and drop off times would also be required under a National government, as well as increased use of breath and drug testing by Police.