Safety of people on our roads is a top priority but any move to reduce speed limits should not be an excuse to skimp on road maintenance and upgrading, Federated Farmers says.

"There are some rural roads which are too windy, narrow and bumpy to drive on safely at 100km/h," Feds transport spokeswoman Karen Williams says. "It may indeed be wise to post a lower speed limit on such routes, though the overriding rule 'drive to the conditions' springs to mind."

However, the blanket and widespread speed limit reductions being suggested could cause far more harm than good.

"Speed limits that drivers perceive as being artificially low cause frustration, which can then spark risky over-taking and other poor behaviour. The cost of extra travel time for people and freight is also no small matter," Karen says.

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"Rural people generally don't have the option of using public transport to get their children the whole way to school, and themselves to work. The reality of living in more remote parts of provinces is that travel by private vehicle is vital.

"Everyone knows that most New Zealanders live in urban areas but that doesn't mean that rural roads with reasonable — and often increasing — traffic volumes should be bottom of the pile for maintenance and upgrading funding.

"Yet that's the situation that's happening too often in our provinces," she says.