The Automobile Association is calling for road improvements to be the priority for the Napier-Taupō Rd, not a drop in speed limits.
Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has proposed to lower the speed limit to 80km/h for an 83km section of State Highway 5,
Consultation on it ends at 11pm on Sunday.
There's been significant backlash to the proposal from many in the community, but some experts have submitted in favour of it, saying it will save lives on what is one of NZ's most dangerous highway stretches.
The Global Road Safety Partnership has said it "strongly endorses" the speed limit drop.
Waka Kotahi has also proposed to reduce the speed limit to 80km/h on SH51 between Marine Parade and Clive, a drop to 60km/h in the current 70 and 80km/h areas of Clive and a drop to 60km/h at Waipatu, Hastings.
The AA supports the drop at Clive and Waipatu, but wants to see improvements to the road in other areas under consultation.
AA Hawke's Bay district council chairman Paul Michaelsen said Hastings District Council did not believe speed reduction should be used as "the default tool to improve safety" and believes improved engineering and maintenance should be the priority.
"We called for an urgent programme of maintenance work on SH5 last year to improve the standard of the road and we continue to do so."
NZTA said speed is "only one part of the puzzle" and an additional $2.5 million is for safety improvements on SH5 to be implemented over the next four months.
But Michaelsen said this $2.5m for "minor safety improvements" is "nowhere near enough" for the road.
He said data shows expenditure on road maintenance in Hawke's Bay has been falling and their surveys of Hawke's Bay AA members show "the deteriorating state" of the region's roads is a "major concern".
He said that from talking to other groups and seeing the responses to the proposal, "it is clear that the AA's views are shared by much of the local community".
Global Road Safety Partnership CEO David Cliff said in its submission said that "hundreds" of peer reviewed studies from universities tell "a consistent story" that "as speed reduces, so does road trauma".
He said the basic "rule of thumb" is that a 5 per cent decrease in average speed leads to approximately a 10 per cent decrease in injury crashes and a 20 per cent decrease in fatal crashes.
"If current mean speeds on the Napier–Taupō Rd are around 100km/h and lowering the speed limit to 80km/h results in mean vehicle speeds reducing by around 10km/h, fatalities will decrease by around 40 per cent and injuries by around 20 per cent.
"The trauma reduction will be substantial. The key is the reduction in 'mean speeds'. Even small reductions in mean speed will generate large reductions in trauma."
Cliff said New Zealand's death rate per 100,000 population is "more than twice the rate of the world's best performing countries and is costing the country over $4 billion every year".
"Reducing non divided rural road speed limits is one of the most important safety measures New Zealand could choose."
He said speed limits needed to be better enforced, as speed limit penalties in New Zealand are "very low by international standards" and have not increased since 1998.
Adding demerit points to speed camera detected offenses is another way to improve this, he said.
NZTA said reducing speeds is something that can be done to prevent deaths and help achieve the Road to Zero 2020-30 target to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on roads by 40 per cent over the next 10 years.
Director of regional relationships Emma Speight said consultation is "about more than asking if people are 'for or against' the proposal" and is about "seeking valuable local and community input so that we can consider wider factors and context into our decisions".