TODAY |

Expert argues against suggestion speed limits should be reduced on most NZ roads

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has recommended sweeping changes to the country's speed limits in order to address the dangers on our roads, but critics say speed is only one part of the problem.

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Road Transport Forum chief executive Nick Legget joined Breakfast to discuss road safety. Source: Breakfast

Yesterday, an online tool used by NZTA revealed that almost 90 per cent of the country's roads have speed limits that are too high. It also found that only five per cent of the open road should have the current 100 km/h speed limit, and the rest should have speeds of between 60 and 80 km/h.

Road Transport Forum chief executive Nick Legget said on TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning that while there has been a spike in people dying or being injured on our roads in recent years, he would like to see "a more balanced approach" to ensure road safety.

Mr Legget said there are a number of factors involved in accidents, with speed contributing to just 25 per cent of them. He instead called for a more targeted approach to the issue.

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Mike Noon from AA speaks with Seven Sharp. Source: Seven Sharp

"Let's take that and identify black spots, look at where speed is clearly a problem in particular roads, target those and fund safety improvements," he said.

"But actually, it's about road maintenance, road design and most critically, of course, it's about better driver behaviour and training."

Today Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there was no intention to make "vast, wide-sweeping changes". 

"The Government has no intentions or plans to make significant changes across the country on speed limits. Where our investment instead has been, for instance, rolling out changes around median barriers, widen areas of road that are high risk. 

"Over the next couple of years we'll invest in safety improvements over 3000 kilometres worth of roads."

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NZTA estimated almost 90 per cent of roads had speed limits that were too high. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Legget said recognising that there "does need to be additional roading investment" is a key part of reducing the number of accidents and deaths on New Zealand roads. 

"The highways budget has been reduced over the last couple of years by about nine per cent and we’ve seen critical roading projects cancelled," he said.

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Phil Twyford's comments come after NZTA estimated 87 per cent of New Zealand speed limits were set too high. Source: 1 NEWS

"Roading investment and safety are quite closely linked, and we’ve got to see a better focus and a more targeted focus and a more balanced focus on the things that actually impact road safety and will bring our accident rate down, but a lot of it is about what we as drivers, how we behave.

"Don't look at cellphones, understand how to look for hazards on the road and be aware at all times."