Waka Kotahi’s latest nightmare:

Waka Kotahi’s latest nightmare:

3rd December 2022
The latest nightmare from Waka Kotahi is a proposal that would reduce speed limits on 400 kilometres of highways, but the changes would be controversial, leaving some commuters with much longer trips.
The Automobile Association of New Zealand road safety spokesperson Dylan Thomsen said the move was the best way to save lives and prevent injury.
“Speed limit reductions are the key tool the government is using to reduce harm and trauma from crashes on the road,” he said. “That’s about setting speed limits lower than they have been.”
Waka Kotahi’s Interim Speed Management Plan has been opened to consultation until 12 December, giving drivers an opportunity for feedback.
The plan would reduce some 100km/h zones, such as the winding Remutaka Hill Road between Wellington and the Wairarapa, to as low as 60km/h.
Why are speed limits being reduced?
Research has long confirmed the benefits of reducing speed limits in urban areas. It reduces noise, pollution, the rate and severity of accidents, and cuts fuel consumption.
A proposal that would reduce speed limits on 400 kilometres of highway is the best way to save lives and prevent injury, the Automobile Association says.
But the changes would be controversial, leaving some commuters with much longer trips and were not likely to be welcomed by everyone, particularly those who regularly travelled long distances.
“Speed limit reductions are the key tool the government is using to reduce harm and trauma from crashes on the road.
“This is the latest step in [the Road to Zero strategy], and it won’t be the last one either as Waka Kotahi national manager of programme and standards Vanessa Browne told Morning Report lowering speed limits did not mean other changes were not made.
But it was a quick change that could be made, she said.
Road safety strategy was underpinned by safe speeds, improving safety through infrastructure and maintenance, safer vehicles and encouraging safer driver behaviour, she said.
National Party transport spokesperson Simeon Brown has called the plan a short-sighted quick-fix saying:
“Just reducing speed limits, it slows New Zealanders down, it causes significant increase in lack of productivity, particularly for our freight industry which relies on being able to get around our country and it doesn’t invest in the quality of our roads which we need to have.”
He said the government should be addressing the condition of state highways which he claimed had become peppered with potholes.
Auckland Transport, are proposing speed limit changes on roads around 57 schools under their Safe Speeds Programme. The proposed changes will apply 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.
The internationally recognised safe and appropriate speed in areas with people walking and on bikes, like around schools, is 30km/h. All of these 57 schools are located in residential areas where the actual speeds that vehicles travel at (operating speeds) are already low. Therefore, the changes we propose will simply bring the posted speed limit in line with the speed vehicles are already travelling at.
As part of this proposal, we have prioritised the roads which already have road safety engineering measures like speed humps, or they already have low operating speeds and don’t require them.
We are taking an area-based approach so we’re proposing speed limit changes on surrounding roads, not just the roads the schools are on.
This new legislation is expected to introduce targets requiring 30km/h or 40km/h speed limits to be set around all schools across Aotearoa within set timeframes over the next ten years.
Auckland Transport is committed to improving the safety of Auckland’s roads, particularly around schools. There are 561 schools in Auckland with surrounding roads that need new speed limits implemented.
The new speed limits implemented will be enforceable by NZ Police once signposted, and the speed limit changes proposed will (if implemented) be permanent 30km/h and apply at all times.
Whilst we all support safer roads and improving the accident statistics on NZ roads, there will be some serious perverse outcomes from these decisions to alter speed limits.
There will be a massive impact on the road transport industry and this will lead to major problems across the whole country with impacts on employment economy food supply and overall productivity.
As a result of the changes to speed limits there will be many commercial road transport operators that will need to change their total method of operation due to the increased time frames for long distance haulage of freight.
There will be many trips where they are currently able to complete as a single journey within the legal driving hours available but with the reduction in speed limits these will often now fall outside the allowable driving hours per shift for their drivers.
This will have two major effects (on both the national economy and operational effects on driving) in the first (national economy) transport operators will need to plan for much longer delivery schedules and this will result in either less freight delivered in any given period or the need to employ more drivers and source more trucks to deliver the same freight levels as at present in the current given time frames.
A classic example of the problems that can occur as a result of these changes is shown with the Napier/Taupo highway speed reduction to 80K/Hr. Given the amount of food and food products that are transported over this stretch of highway the effects are already being felt by the commercial road transport operators in this area and will soon be felt by the consumers in the increased prices for food items.
Transport operators will have to include serious increases in charges to cover extra costs incurred from the need to accommodate drivers away from their home base due to their inability to complete trips within the given legal driving hours allowed each shift.
They will also need to invest more capital in increasing the size of their fleets to cope with the extra demands caused by the longer trip times required as a result of these speed limit changes.
Then there is also the availability of new vehicles to fill the demand, with current supply levels meaning that when you order a new vehicle it can take up to three months to be made available to the purchaser and it is expected that with increased demand this will only get worse.
The ultimate effect of these changes will be that costs of transport will rise significantly and this will mean that the end costs of products to the consumers will rise accordingly with a concurrent rise in inflation and in the cost of living.
Then of course there will be the operational effects felt by all road users not just the commercial road transport operators.
More commercial vehicles on the highways around the country will mean reduced trip times for private motorists due to the lower speed limits and road congestion.
There is also the likelihood that the increase in commercial vehicles will bring with it increased levels of frustrated behaviours from the private motorists who are impatient and make bad decisions around trying to pass in dangerous situations leading to increased levels of accidents.
The increased number of commercial vehicles will bring a significant increase in road user charges for the government but will also result in much higher wear factors on the roads leading to much increased need for maintenance and the associated disruptions to normal traffic flows from those maintenance operations.
The increased level of heavy vehicles brings with it the increase in greenhouse gas emissions and the environmental issues that come from increased road traffic.
It is also likely that many of the smaller transport operators will close up shop as a result of these proposed changes as they will not be able to fund the increased levels of vehicles and drivers to maintain their current levels of service to their customers even if they could find the vehicles and drivers to fill the demands.
And of course the biggest problem of all is that the road transport industry is desperately short of drivers currently so how are they going to be expected to find more drivers as a result of the changes to these limits and the need for longer delivery times.