The speed limit on the rural section of Cambridge Rd could be reduced to 60km/h after residents warned that it was only a matter of time before there was a major crash involving a school bus.
Tauranga City councillors agreed unanimously to start the process of lowering the speed limit on the 3km stretch of Cambridge Rd from State Highway 29 to Moffat Rd.
They were responding to appeals yesterday by residents Paul Anselmi and Peter and Alison Fitzgerald who live on the road. They particularly feared for the safety of children when the school bus pulled over to pick them up and let them off, and when they crossed the road.
Mr Anselmi highlighted how his daughter narrowly escaped a head-on collision when she was waiting to turn right into their driveway. A truck coming around the corner was unable to stop and swerved onto the grass verge, with the trailer chipping her car and sending it into the path of oncoming traffic which managed to take evasive action.
"There are so many accidents and near misses - the 80km/h speed limit is dangerous."
Council transport operations manager Martin Parkes said lowering the speed limit did not mean motorists would adhere to it. "Compliance is quite good for 80km/h."
He said the council would have to bring in some physical measures onto the road to bring down speeds because otherwise it would not work.
Mr Fitzgerald argued that motorists would respect a 60km/h speed limit and that police were willing to enforce the lower limit. He highlighted difficulties residents had exiting their driveways where there was limited visibility and they had to accelerate hard to get up to the speed of traffic.
Mrs Fitzgerald said she took her life into her hands with traffic approaching from behind every time she turned into their driveway. "We should not wait for a tragedy to happen before common sense prevails."
Mr Parkes said the legal process to lower the speed limit could take "several months" before the issue came back to council.
Councillor David Stewart said the Road Transport Association representing the trucking industry favoured lowering the speed limit.
Councillors were surprised at Mr Fitzgerald's recent peak-time traffic counts of 1035 cars, 64 trucks and 16 buses from 7.30am to 8.30am; and 898 cars, 60 trucks and 15 buses from 3.30pm to 4.30pm.