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Dropping speed limit on Nelson-Blenheim highway prompts thousands to sign petition opposing move

For the past few years there has been a bit of a debate about raising speed limits on motorways as cars get safer and roads sturdier, but now, things appear to be going the other way.

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It could be a sign of things to come around the country. Source: Seven Sharp

In a month's time, the New Zealand Transport Agency will lower the speed limit on the entire stretch of State Highway 6 between Blenheim and Nelson and it could be a sign of things to come for the whole country.

According to the NZTA: "The changes will reduce the existing 100km/h limits to 80km/h in places, introduce new 90km/h speed limits on appropriate sections of state highway, and introduce two new variable school speed zones."

Thousands of locals are against the lower speed limits.

Stephanie Drewery started an online petition calling for the lower speed limit to be scrapped which is now up to 25,000 signatures. The petition's gone all the way to the Parliament.

"I know it pisses a lot of other people off, you've got to stand up and be counted,” Drewery said.

“I was bored of everyone complaining and not doing anything about it, so I opened my mouth and started the petition. Once that sort of kicked off the numbers went crazy.”

One stretch of the road that's being dropped to a double digit speed limit is just out of Renwick as you head into the hills towards Havelock and the Rai Valley further.

“On this particular road we've had 20 deaths in the last 10 years and over 100 serious injuries, that's far too many,” Jim Harland of NZTA said.

“If you look particularly in the flat areas between Renwick and Havelock, if you make a mistake there's power poles very close, there's not much to stop you rolling into a farmer's field and becoming seriously injured, so while it may look acceptable at 100 it's not acceptable if you make a mistake.”

In all, the changes amount to a journey which is 10 minutes longer but to locals, that's beside the point.

“If the conditions allow and it's a lovely straight piece of road, drive at a 100km, if not make the decision because you're a sensible human being and a grown up, make the decision to drive at 60,” Drewery said.

NZTA say the changes in speed limits are for safety.

“New Zealanders think they're better drivers than they are, and we've got plenty of evidence to show that we're not as good as we think we are,” Harland said.