As the Summer holiday break starts to wind down, more speed limit changes have been rolled out on high volume highways in the North and South Island, with the changes copping a mixed response.
State Highway 1, State Highway 2, and State Highway 6 have all inherited lower speed limits. SH1’s changes are minimal; a 190m stretch in South Canterbury halved from 100km/h to 50km/h. Thirty kilometres of SH2 has been impacted between Kati Kati and Tauranga, dropping from 100km/h to between 60km/h and 80km/h.
The changes to SH6 are the most significant. They cover a 110km stretch between Blenheim and Nelson, with all 100km/h speed limits removed and replaced with mostly 90km/h and 80km/h speed limits.
The move, conducted by the Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency, is part of its ‘Road to Zero’ road safety vision, which hopes to eliminate all road deaths. It’s been a rocky road for the vision, which has copped criticism from numerous sides for focusing more on speeding than on improving driver education or the safety of roads.
“[The] Agency is currently identifying roads where reviewing speed limits could make a big difference in preventing deaths and serious injuries, and where communities are calling for change,” said a statement from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.
“Any proposal to drop speed limits is driven by the need to improve safety and reduce harm for everyone on our roads.”
The NZ Herald also reports that the NZTA said lowering speed limits is the “quickest and most effective” way to prevent deaths and serious injuries. Some locals aren’t impressed with the changes, including Moana Johnsen of Seddon, Marlborough. Speaking to the Herald, she alleged that the changes were a “revenue gathering” ploy.
“When’s 90 [km/h] been a speed limit? We’ve got decent vehicles, that stick to the roads, and we’ve got to do 90? Ninety in an open space? And then there’s 80 and then there’s 60 going up a hill that’s got an overtaking space? Yeah nah, it’s revenue gathering, mate, revenue gathering,” she said.
“They’ve done all these changes further down the road, the Kaikōura coast, which has been fixed up and made really nice. But they’ve got signs up there too: 60, 80. Is the open road going to go to 80?
“It’s ridiculous, might as well get my horse and cart out and trot up and down the road. If our roads are not up to 100km/h, then fix them.”