A rural Hawke's Bay settlement has unanimously voted against a proposal to lower the State Highway 5 speed limit to 80 kilometres per hour.
Earlier this month, Waka Kotahi proposed lowering the speed along the notorious road from 100km/h to 80km/h from Eskdale to just south of Rangitaiki, a distance of about 83km.
At a community meeting in Te Pōhue, residents voted against the proposal, instead calling for more slow vehicle bays and passing lanes.
Mohaka ward councillor and Hastings deputy mayor Tania Kerr said there is "real concern" among locals that the reduced speed limit would increase frustration and create more dangerous driving.
"The community told us loud and clear that the issue was not speed, but poor driver behaviour," she said.
"If the speed limit is only 80 km/h on a passing lane, it gives drivers less time to pass and will only increase frustration creating more dangerous driving."
An attendee, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "There are safety issues with drivers not familiar with the road, trying to pass truck drivers around blind corners."
Kerr added that without a clear plan to invest in SH5, the road will continue to be dangerous, no matter the speed.
Kerr said residents are concerned the increase in travel time will have an impact on their wages, with a significant number of logging and harvest crews, shearing gangs and residents who work in town.
"One truck driver who addressed the meeting said that the lower speed limit will mean he has to make one less trip a day, potentially losing a quarter of his income," she said.
Local resident Kiri Goodspeed said the proposed speed restrictions would have a significant impact on locals' lifestyle.
"I would have to consider going to town only once a fortnight instead of every week, reconsider whether as a business it was economical to have clients in town and consider withdrawing my children from the only early childcare education available," she said.
Goodspeed said a trip to the hospital, which currently takes one hour, would take an hour and 20 minutes under the new limits.
The community did agree, however, that the speed limit should be lowered around the villages of Te Pōhue and Te Haroto, with a pull-off area introduced at Tarawera for north-bound traffic.
Waka Kotahi director regional relationships Emma Speight said in order to reduce deaths and serious injuries on roads, a major shift was needed from speed to driver education.
"It's not a matter of choosing one solution over another," she said. "We need to take action in all of these areas.
Safety improvements costing $2.5m will be implemented during the next four months, including side barriers, road markings and rumble lines.
"Lowering speeds doesn't mean we can't make other changes, but it is one of the most effective things we can do now to keep people alive and safe on this road," she said.