New Zealand will support 'more appropriate' speed limits - Julie Anne Genter

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter is confident the public would support "more appropriate" speeds limits on certain New Zealand roads. 

Genter, a Green Party MP, says it's her job to speak up and deliver road safety outcomes that reduce or eliminate the number of lives lost - or seriously injured - in road crashes.

In support of this year's Road Safety Week theme of Save Lives, #SpeakUp, Genter told RNZ that the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) is actively looking at reducing the speed limit on some roads to reduce fatalities. 

While there wouldn't be a blanket speed limit reduction, Genter said the NZTA is currently scoping out the most dangerous roads and will deliver what they consider an appropriate speed limit to local councils for consideration. 

Genter told RNZ: "At the moment, they have to go through a lot of bureaucratic hoops to get the speed limit changed. It should be easy, straight-forward, and quick to change it to an appropriate speed limit."

She's also confident the public would support lowering speed limits on roads that have a history of accidents, telling RNZ: "I actually think there'll be a silent majority who are quite in favour, and say, actually, it's the right thing to do."

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter.
Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter. Photo credit: Newshub

The road toll was at 144 as of last night, a number that is tracking higher than the 377 people who died on New Zealand roads in 2018. 

Genter joined a number of road safety advocates who have spoken out in support of Road Safety Week, such as Greg Lazzaro, the NZTA's general manager of safety, health and environment. 

"It is a terrible fact that on average, seven people die and more than 50 is reported seriously injured every week on New Zealand's roads," he said. The social cost on New Zealand, he added, comes to $84 million per week, or nearly $4.8 billion a year. 

The Government announced in December the $1.4 billion Safe Network Programme which aims to improve safety on New Zealand's most high-risk roads with a focus on crash prevention such as median barriers and shoulder widening. 

National's transport spokesperson Paul Goldsmith criticised it at the time, saying lowering speed limits and bringing in more barriers was a "poor substitute for the highly engineered, four-lane state highways National was building". 

Speed limit reductions have been projected for a number of Auckland roads under a proposal by Auckland Transport, with the majority of them in rural areas, while some city roads would be reduced to 30km/h. 

An international body has recommended that in order to reduce the risk of head-on collisions, rural roads without a median barrier should have a speed limit of 70km/h and 30km/h in city areas that have vulnerable road users like cyclists. 

April was a particularly alarming month on New Zealand roads, with two horrific crashes taking place in less than a week around Taupō. 

Genter told RNZ it was "no secret that many of the posted speed limits are not a safe speed limit to travel at" on New Zealand roads.


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