Speed limit changes must make sense to people

27 September 2021

Speed limit changes must make sense to people

Speed limit proposals need to match the look and feel of the road to be most successful.

That is the AA's message to Auckland Transport (AT) as consultation commences today on proposals for speed limit changes on a further 600 kilometres of roads in the city.

The AA’s position reflects feedback from Members that many of the changes rolled out last year in AT’s first round of speed limit reductions simply don’t make sense to motorists. Those changes involved over 700 kilometres of speed limit reductions, mainly throughout the city centre and on a number of rural roads. 

AT’s second round of proposals cover over 600km of roads – the majority of which are in South Auckland. If the second round goes ahead in full it will mean 16% of the speed limits in Auckland have been reduced in two years.

The latest proposals continue the previous approach – with speed limits reduced to 30 km/h in urban areas, and predominantly 60km/h and 80km/h on rural roads.

“Research shows that people typically drive at the speed that feels right to them based on the road environment. So 30km/h limits will make sense on certain narrow, quiet roads but not on wide, major roads," AA Senior Advisor – Infrastructure, Sarah Geard says.

“The AA supports common sense in safety and that means speed limit changes need to match up with the design of the road to be most effective and have good public support. Feedback from AA Members suggest that many of the speed limits rolled out last year aren’t ticking these boxes.

"The best road safety result will be where speed limit reductions are common sense to motorists because they’ll naturally comply. If the limits don’t make sense, the risk is you end up with people driving above the limit most of the time unless you have constant enforcement. That’s not a good outcome for road safety,” says Sarah.

Recent Auckland AA Member surveys show that while the majority (70%) of Auckland AA Members support – or potentially support – lower speed limits around Auckland, there is much lower levels of support for last year’s changes. What’s more, AA Member feedback suggests levels of compliance are low.

The AA will be submitting on the latest proposals, with a particular focus on calling for speed limits that make sense to people.

“Where speed limit changes are needed to improve road safety, we’ll be calling on AT to ensure that the proposed speed limits make sense and will get good levels of compliance. In some locations, this may mean more needs to be done than just changing the number in a sign on the side of the road. It may be that improved signage (such as flashing advisory signs) or road layout changes are needed. Alternatively, it may be that variable speed limits – which differ at different times – are the best intervention.”

“We also strongly encourage all Aucklanders to take a look at the proposals and let Auckland Transport know what you think so they get a thorough picture of the public’s views.”

Consultation is underway until 14 November. Further information can be found at https://at.govt.nz/about-us/have-your-say/proposed-speed-limit-changes/

Snapshot of AA Member survey results on Auckland speed limit changes

Urban roads survey, June 2021: 1,100 responses from AA Members across Auckland.

Akld speed limits urban roads what do you think graph

Akld speed limits urban roads how do people obey graph

Rural roads survey, June 2021: 1,000 responses from AA Members who live in rural areas where speed limit changes were made.

Akld speed limits rural roads what do you think graph

Akld speed limits rural roads how do people obey graph

For more information contact:

Sarah Geard
AA Senior Advisor – Infrastructure
New Zealand Automobile Association
M. 027 281 2069
E. sgeard@aa.co.nz

The New Zealand Automobile Association is an incorporated society with more than 1.8 million Members. It represents the interests of road users who collectively pay more than $2 billion in taxes each year through fuels excise, road user charges and GST.

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