Rural road speed limits under discussion

Speed limits on rural roads are under the spotlight, with one local council reviewing the issue.

Horowhenua District Council is reviewing the limits on rural roads in the region, and inviting the public to have their say in a survey.

Roading Services Manager Kevin Peel said council wanted to gauge the community's views about safe and appropriate speed limits for the conditions and driving environments on rural roads.

"Nationally, due to the increase in numbers of deaths and serious injuries on New Zealand's roads, there is a growing demand for safer speeds," he said.

"Council's aim is to enhance the safety of the district's road network by establishing consistent and credible speed zones that accurately reflect the safety risk to road users while minimising frequent speed limit changes to avoid driver confusion," said Mr Peel.

The review is being undertaken in accordance with the government's Safer Journeys Action Plan, which aims to reduce the number and severity of crashes on roads, and the New Zealand Transport Agency's (NZTA) 2016 Speed Management Guide and Risk Assessment Tool, which sets the criteria for determining and implementing speed limits.

Mr Peel said NZTA's 2016 guide reflects changes in the way speed limits are set following the adoption of the government's Land Transport Rule 'Setting of Speed Limits 2017' as part of the Safer Journeys Strategy.

"Under the old rules, all rural roads had a 100kph speed limit unless certain stringent criteria could be met for allowing the speed to be lowered."

"However, this approach led to some cases of inconsistent and inappropriate speed limits that were unsafe for the road environment and conditions." 

He said the new approach aims to create national consistency of speed limits in areas with similar roads, taking into account factors such as roadside hazards, development, traffic and alignment.

The survey closes at 4pm on Friday 1 February. 

The results will be taken into consideration with proposed changes to the Speed Limits Schedule in the Land Transport Bylaw 2017.