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The government is concerned about speed and the road toll. Here's a selection of your latest views on the topic.


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Denice Kunniger
Although, as a lot of people mention, driver education is imperative, the learning starts way before then. It starts with discipline, which most Kiwi teenagers lack. The government has given them absolute freedom, from punishment, drinking and driving. And what is more is they are not willing to change their (misused) actions as they will no longer receive the votes of these spoiled individuals. Hence, the crime rate is increasing, the teenage death tole is increasing and education is decreasing. Come on NZ, make our roads a safer place.

Reece Palmer
Until the standard of both our roads and our drivers increase, speed limits should stay right where they are.
Neil Mumby
I have no difficulty with the government implementing a road safety program to get the road toll down, and I support in the main, the emphasis on reducing speeding drivers. I do however have a fundamental difficulty with government policies not addressing the issue of ensuring smooth and safe traffic flow at the same time, particularly on state highways away from the main town centres. By this I mean, that equal emphasis should be placed on educating those drivers and vehicles who consistently travel slower than the average traffic flow. This is of course evident when there is a slow vehicle at the head of a long queue, and frustrated motorists resort to passing at inopportune times. Overseas countries ticket vehicles for holding up the flow of traffic, but it would appear that such actions do not often occur in NZ. Emphasis could also be put upon educating motorists that what is now referred to as a passing lane should be considered as a pull over lanes to correct the current mind set of drivers, which seems to be to speed up when approaching these lanes. The speeding up of slower vehicles as they approach passing lanes would appear to coincide with the stationing of speed cameras and mobile patrols at the end of these lanes. This has the unfortunate effect of encouraging persons to pass slower vehicles in other areas, as the increasing speed of the slower vehicles with the real risk of a ticket means that this can become a rational approach. I consider the government needs to impose a comprehensive road user program - not one based solely on speed.

Terri Stevenson
I feel education is the key in reducing accidents on the road, Obviously speed does play a part in how critical an error in judgement on the road can be.
However speed is only a contributing factor. Young drivers just starting out should be well educated not just in the road code but in the wisdom of the road as well. Driving to conditions is one thing you may learn as you get older, better to learn it young and survive! We launched a site on the 19th December called www.snapt.co.nz and our mission is to bring back courtesy to our roads and awareness of how bad driving habits can ruin your life and someone elses.

Rick Corle
I live in a city where when it rains people drive faster and four wheel drivers think they can defy gravity. What is needed is driver education through media saturation, show the people what high-speed aquaplaning does even if you have a brand new set of tyres for instance. Also I do not know how many times when I have been on the motorway and seen fast lane huggers that are daydreamers and the slow lane empty its crazy.

Craig Stewart
This year my family and I all travelled from Auckland to Kati Kati on the 24th Dec and returned on the 27th Dec. Generally the traffic was very well behaved with no speeders at all, and no dangerous driving as would have been seen 5-10years ago. Yes there were a few slow pokers but generally they seemed to be aware of the cars behind them and pulled over to let all pass at some point. So driving and consideration for other road users in NZ has improved markedly in the last 10 years. The Police and the LTSA focus on speed and alcohol but what has changed driving in NZ is the increased number of Police on NZ roads. At the end of the day, drivers respect what you (police) inspect and enforce more than anything else. I should know as I was one of the speeders of old. I now enjoy doing 100kph on the open road. You certainly see a lot more of this great country we live in.

John Allen
NZ get up to speed with the rest of the 1st world. Raise the age limit to gain a learners licence, at least to 17yrs, make driving lessons a requirement, and then maybe 6 months on a restricted with the car sporting a "P" plate. It is really that simple, but of course its common sense so will never happen in NZ. Much more emphasis on good driving skills and manners whilst out on the road would make for much safer roads, and keep left (how hard is it?)

Kieran Cornelius
Currently, traffic policing targets 3 areas: speed, drink and drugs. What this tells the public is that you can drive as badly as you want as long as you don't do any of the 3 very naughty things described above. However, should two vehicles, each travelling at 70km/h on an open road, collide head-on, there is a strong likelihood of one or more fatalities. So does this mean that we should lower our open road speed limit to 60km/h or less? Of course not. Surely the best solution would be to not crash in the first place, rather than to crash at a slower impact speed? This is where greater driver training, skill level and attention is key. While the insurance, vehicle repair & salvage industries may not like the idea of fewer crashes, surely saving lives must come first? Yes, first - even more important than issuing speeding tickets in order to fill M. Cullen's coffers. There needs to be a drastic shake-up of the NZ police force as, currently, it is much more enticing for a police officer to sit on traffic duty (where they are encouraged to issue speeding tickets) than on crime duty, as the paperwork is far greater for solving actual crimes. Could this possibly have something to do with the spiralling murder rate in our country? Smilarly, LTNZ is also badly in need of a new direction, as the bureaucrats residing in this organisation have no concept of truly trying to improve traffic safety. If they did, they would be taking steps more in line with those of the developed OECD nations, rather than trying to further dumb down our drivers. For this reason, driving tests should be much more exacting and have to be re-sat every time one's driver's license expires, which should again include the elderly; I am yet to see an individual who has held their license for 60+ years not perform some potentially fatal errors, such as running red lights, failing to give way, failing to maintain traffic flow, failing to keep left etc. In summary, the blanket slow down everywhere, all the time message needs to go in favour of a driving training and enforcement regime that encourages high skill levels and attentiveness. Again, one only needs to look at the developed OECD countries (particularly in Europe) to see how a speed limit of, say, 130km/h can be safe - on motorway sections that look uncannily like Alpurt or the Waikato expressway. The difficulty will be in changing the mindsets of those that dictate the road safety policy.

Jan Middleton
It is about bringing back responsibility behind the wheel, creating awareness of safety and courtesy on the road. The police do not have time to be everywhere, and the public must do its bit to assist. If we continue to tolerate bad driver behaviour, the situation will not change. If we don't create awareness and educate, nothing will improve.

Kalya Faulkner
Speed limits should be variable depending on the type of open road being driven upon. For eg. motorways, straight long stretches of main highways, and express ways should be set at 110kmph to ensure the ability of traffic to move freely from A2B. People using these should be aware that slow traffic stays in left lanes and faster or long haul traffic uses the middle and centre lanes and drive at the speed of traffic travelling in those, not sit on a lower speed and aggravate everyone else who it trying to maintain its progress. Some roads marked as open are not fit to be driven at 100km and the speed limits should be adjusted downward to say 70-80km due to the cambre and the winding of the road layout. Where we live we have Sunday drivers trying to do 100kmph on our rural roads, and quite often they end up bowling horses and riders by taking big risks with speed on small country back roads. The trend to adjust downwards at black spots is starting to occur in our area, but would suggest that the local council or government take more heed in being pro-active to stop speed related accidents in theses circumstances.

Russell Orr
The notion that speed is the problem and enforcement the answer is nonsense. It is based on statistics produced by police from road crashes where the little box on the traffic crash report that asks whether speed was a factor has been ticked by a diligent policeman. Of course speed was a factor.If all vehicles involved were stationary there would not be a crash! The issue is what were the causes of this crash? Singling out speed makes as much sense as blaming gravity for airplane crashes?

Dave Mountford
Speed is said to be a factor is the vast majority of road accidents. What is not said is that most of the time it is people driving too fast for the conditions, and not necessarily breaking the speed limit. Yet all the propaganda that is shoved down our throats is all about breaking the speed limit. How about some real driver education? What ever happened to Brake on the Straight etc? How about informing drivers on where they should be looking in a corner, how to tell if a corner is tightening, about mentally conditioning yourself to be thinking about the what ifs and planning an exit strategy? Following distances. Assessing road conditions. The list goes on. We have become a nation of people obsessed with our speedos, always keeping half of our attention inside the car to make sure we don't get that ticket instead of keeping our attention outside on what is going on around us.

Jithan Varma
I believe the speed on New Zealand roads should be raised to 110km/h. As aforementioned, many straight, wide urban roads are still set at 50km/h making for a very frustrated drive. Perhaps an option might be variable speed signs as seen in Melbourne. There are times when it is required that motorists keep their speed to 50km/h, but driving down Great South Rd at in the middle of the night without another car in sight and still having to keep at 50km/h defeats any logic I can think of. The roads in New Zealand are actually of a decent quality. I performed a few tests regarding the grain of the road in relation to the friction and New Zealand roads are well within the high friction region of the spectrum. Moreover, SH1 from Auckland to Hamilton is nearly straight, save a few nicely banked curves. 99 per cent of vehicles would be safe traveling this road at even 120km/h. The driving age need not be raised. The penalties increased maybe, but there is no point in punishing the general public for the actions of a few. Punish the criminals, I say.

Robert Siegel
After driving trucks for over 30years, I have noticed a marked deterioration in the ability of a larger proportion of drivers who should not hold a driver's licence. The ability to be able to judge distances being one of the problems. Another is lack of knowledge of the road code. Until the general public understand the road code and the meaning of amber flashing lights eg hazard lights, and revolving amber beacons, the speed limit should be lowered to 90kms for all cars and motor cycles and 80kms for all heavy vehicles without exception.

Roger Crabtree
As a Kiwi who has lived in Western Australia for two years now, my partner and I are still surprised at the courtesy and consideration shown to other road users by most Aussie drivers. They wait at stop and give way signs, indicate, do not park in disabled parking areas, and generally do not get in the way. There is much less aggression, a warning horn will bring a reasonable response rather than the instant agro of the Road Warriors approach. Also, Aussie does not have the insane right hand rule with its built in confusion factor. Attitude is New Zealands principal road problem. One thing that the NZ government can do if it is really concerned with the road toll rather than collecting revenue is build more passing lanes, lots more, to reduce the frustration factor. Another is to focus on the inconsiderate slow drivers, again reduce the frustration and attitude will improve.

Bev
I am a driver, and I think it is to easy for anyone to get a licence. You should be able to read English as well as understand English to drive on our roads. There are people driving who do not know the road rules, because they can not read the signs.

Malc Lock
The focus seems to be entirely upon speed instead of quality driving. Road safety is dependent upon road conditions. A suburban road at 3am on a Sunday morning can be quite safe at 60kph. A motorway is a death trap in a hailstorm if travelling at 70kph. This slow down policy is causing many drivers to keep pumping the brakes the moment they near that dreaded 50kph limit. This produces stop-start nose to tail conditions which either causes "road-anger" or dangerous overtaking. Surely the government should focus upon keeping traffic moving ? As a 2 million kilometre driver, even the crazy streets of Bangkok or Rome are safer than the roads in NZ (as confirmed in the UK newspapers). NZ driving standards are abysmal. The only hope for safer roads must be a change in focus from Quantity to quality. I for one,
however, will not be holding my breath on that score.

David Coufal
It is true the conditions of the German roads are far higher. The German Autobahn system is 12200km long, compared to NZs 170km of motorway (Germany and NZ have about the same land area). But of this, around half has no real speed restriction (around 6000km!). The key is driver education. You can not learn to drive until you are 18 and you must attend a driving school and the instructors are very tough. It costs around 1500 euros. I fully agree with the other correspondents: teach people to drive properly and the road toll will come down.

Ankit Kumar
It is easy to say that speed is the cause for most of the road accidents and it is a very easy escape clause. There is a radio advert that says drive to the conditions; when they change, reduce your speed. There is a lot of emphasis on lowering driving speed no matter what the situation be on the road. There is a false sense of security being conveyed to the public. Some important changes that need to be made are:
1. The age limit on getting a license should be increased.
2. Drinking age needs to be increased. For the past couple of months, all I hear about is a teenager involved in a road rage associated with drinking.
3. LTSA needs to educate the public more and more like their Merge like a zip campaign.
4. Speed limits on roads need to be reviewed. I am not suggesting that the speed limit be increased from 100 km/h but I am saying that on open roads like the Gt.South.Road south of Papakura and many others it does not make sense to have a limit of 50 km/h. Also, the main reason why I say that the motorway speed limit should not be increased to above 100 km/h is because the road conditions and the quality of cars does not allow that. We cannot compare thisto Autobahn (Germany). Good to see that the government is imposing a law on importing cars less than 6-8 years.
5. To overtake slow drivers a person has to increase the speed, which may go over the road, speed limit but that should not be the reason for getting a speeding ticket. The goal of the driver overtaking is to overtake at a speed, which is safe for all the nearby drivers. Whatever happened to having traffic police different to police?

Mike Kemp
Speed per se is not the critical problem, it is driving ability and drivers attitude. However, I think that encouraging more self responsibility by way of laws and signage would help the most; for example, the keep left rule is misconstrued by many, and mis-used by all and sundry. We should be using the road as intended, and those who wish to overtake should plan, execute and take responsibility for that manoeuvre themselves. It is unsafe to have vehicles squeezing into the debris-strewn edge of the roadway, inviting the following vehicle to pass, often successfully, even where it would be unsafe to do so, and often in a three-abreast fashion. It goes without saying that the give way rules must be changed, with the current rules, a left-turning road user must take account the intentions of the following vehicle(s), not just the oncoming turning vehicles.

Jill
Speed limits alone have nothing to do with road tolls. It is the driving education of the one involved. Obviously some are innocent accidents. However, the driving age of NZ should be raised to 18. At 15 children (yes children still) are much too young to be behind the wheel, their maturity levels are still too low. This reflected the recent 3 teenagers that were killed while being chased by the police. He also had passengers too, those lives claimed as well. Younger drivers simply ignore road rules, they drink and drive, they speed, they try to race with those with fast cars, they do not give way, etc. These apply to some adult drivers, too, but most time their common sense is still there. There's no point raising the drinking age as it only limits the under 18s from purchasing alcohol, their parents could still get those for them- as long as they're not drinking in public.

Stewart Knowles
I think that an important part of road safety is knowing how fast you can go on the road you are on. It amazes me how we can spend millions on the roads, but the speed limit signs are very infrequent, usually placed only where the speed limit changes. That was how the Police Commissioner got a ticket - he missed the only sign that told him that the speed limit had changed. I would expect speed signs to be a relatively cheap component of roading. It seems that most people drive the same roads and therefore are familiar with the speed limits. It is not so easy when you drive different roads - the lack signage is most unhelpful. I think it is reasonable to expect a speed sign every 1 km and for all traffic to travel within 5 km/hr of that speed or to pull over at the next sign and let the rest of the traffic through.
On average, slow traffic adds about 20 per cent to my long distance travel times.

David Lewin
The standard of driving in NZ relative to comparably developed countries - is poor. The reasons for this are probably numerous, but here are a couple of obvious ones: 1) give learner drivers a higher bar to jump when taking learning/their test would be a start. This should include more mandatory elements of defensive driving habits. 2) the standard of driving instructors has to be questioned and qualification for becoming one be made more difficult. I know there are a number of very professional instructors out there, but by the same token there are too many who are not, and who promote (sometimes unknowingly) downright bad/dangerous driving behaviour. Tinkering with the speed limit is like treating the symptom, not the cause.The speed dictates the size of the mess, not necessarily the reason for the accident.

Kevin Neal
I am an ex-pat kiwi living in the US and it seems to me that most people advocating higher speed limits and using the US as a comparison are oversimplifying the issue. Yes, highways in some states have speed limits as high as 75mph but the US highway system and NZ highway system are like chalk and cheese. Long, straight, safe highways are a bit easier, and cheaper, to build in a state like Ohio where I live, than they would be in large parts of NZ where the terrain is not so friendly. In addition, the US has it is share of weird speed limits, including 55mph (88kph) on open roads outside of the highways and as low as 25mph (40kph)in most residential areas. The comparison continues to fall apart when you look at the difference between urban and rural areas. 33 per cent of US states have 65 mph highway speed limits in rural areas but this number shoots up to 75 per cent in urban areas - and 16 states have urban highway speed limits of 55mph or below! Be careful what you wish for.

Paula Edmondson
The reasons: young drivers (not much alternative for them); multi-national drivers (combination of LHS/RHS drivers); alcohol tolerance (as opposed to zero-alcohol tolerance; many un-roadworthy vehicles; many countryside roads; cultural freedom and lack of personal responsibility - ie ACC picks up tab, low incidence of insurance for accident. It will take a long time to turn this around, but my belief is that if insurance became compulsory before a driver is allowed on the road, a lot of things would change quickly. Take the burden off the taxpayer and put it onto those responsible, the driver!

Mad Matt
I am another Kiwi living overseas - in Melbourne, in the state of Victoria, that has a comparable population and land area to New Zealand and only approx. 330 road deaths in 2006. They have 60 km/h (or higher) speed limits on urban arterial roads, with 40 km/h speed limits around schools, and 110 km/h speed limits on motorways outside of urban areas. Better yet, they now have roadside random drug testing and it is startling how many are testing positive! I have just spend two weeks driving around the North Island and I must agree with some of the other posters to this site that having different speed limits for vehicles using the same congested roads creates long queues of traffic and some reckless driving (esp. overtaking). There needs to be a rule to force slow drivers to pull over. Like the Tui Beer billboard says: The extra $180m spent on the roads has made a big difference - Yeah Right. Driving in NZ reminds me of driving in Malaysia.

Blair Carruthers
We need: speed limits to suit the conditions (higher limits (60, 70km/hr) for main residential arterials, 110km for freeways; better driver training (including fatigue management, and cornering); more co-ordinated traffic light management; and a uniform speed for trucks, cars and trailers (we drive 60 tonne B-Doubles at 100km/hr on the highway in Australia). If however industrial production, efficiency and good time and cost management are not important, then who cares if it takes all day to get across town? NZ is a great place to retire.

Simon
Speed is a major factor in the road toll as science proves that the faster you the crash the more damage it causes. But the question is why do we crash and how do we avoid crashing. The most common cause of crashes are the driver weather it be due to alcohol , drugs, fatigue or just being plain silly. Sure if you are drunk and crash at 50kph you might survive and 100kph you would probably die and or kill someone else and at 120kph you will definitely die. So you might look at that example and say speed killed the man but the true underlying factor is alcohol killed the man. The other factor to look at is road conditions. Our roads are substandard and are not designed for cars to go faster than 100kph and a lot of roads are not even designed for that. In New Zealand we have extreme weather and climate that affects our roads. One only has to drive the desert road to see this. Our roading authorities and government departments that have under funded roads and cut corners and paying the price in blood, the blood of our nation dying on our poor designed and underfunded roads. The next factor to look at is the quality of our cars sure we have a WOF standard, Standard you say what is that I can fail a warrant and one garage and take it to another and get a pass. And if I do not have a warranty I get a $200 fine that I will never have to pay anyway so why bother. This attitude then carries onto driving. Too many times have I been doing 100Kph on windy roads to have someone right up me pulling the finger or flashing lights to then overtake me on a dangerous corner when he clearly can not see 100 metres. Then if he hits an oncoming car it is put down to speeding.
One road rule that should be abolished is like this: If a truck is doing 90kph and you want to pass it you are only allowed to do 100kph so you spend about 10 seconds on the other side of the road trying to pass this truck. You can not tell what will happen in 10 seconds and to be stuck next to a truck with a car coming head on and having to brake and fit back into the traffic jam behind the truck is daunting stuff. People kill through politics, laziness , poor judgement , lack of skills and most of all our bad attitude. I have driven in other countries and they are far more polite than we are here.

Allen Pidwell
Three factors that both the LSTA and the Police ignore are: 1 Slow drivers hold up traffic creating frustration and thence dangerous overtaking. If a driver can not drive competently at the speed limit they should not be on the road. 2. the NZ Fire service has invested large amounts of public funds into supplying world class rescue equipment and training to their staff with the goal of extracting injured from the wreck within 20 minutes. 3 the extensive use of rescue helicopters which get the victims to a hospital within an hour have significantly reduced the road toll.

Robert Phillips
The current 50/100kph major speed limits are fair with the de facto allowance of 10kph (depending on conditions) giving us a parallel with Australia. However, I agree with others that the proliferation of 60/70/80 speed limits is confusing and unnecessary. A single intermediary tier of about 70-75kph, with most 80kph restrictions removed, would seem preferable. The problems I see are attitudinal, especially poor driving skills, lack of courtesy, and road safety messages which miss the boat. In addition are the unremitting sociopaths, the recidivists who must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Many young people seem untrained to drive through a corner on a highway, often travelling at excessive speed on straights only to brake heavily to inch their way around curves. When they try to go faster, however, their lack of knowledge of the physics of driving leads them to lose control. Worse, however, is the appalling lack of courtesy by many, including professional drivers, through either arrogance or obliviousness towards others on the roads. Many older drivers seem to believe that their uncomfortably low speeds are the optimum safe speed, so make no effort to let others through, while many (often the same people) refuse to remain as far as practicable to the left. Both of these are policed in Australia, but not in New Zealand, causing frustration and sometimes foolish mistakes to be taken by otherwise law-abiding people. Our road safety messages miss the boat, concentrating on trying to induce fear of death, injury or capture - things which will "never happen to me" for most persistently errant drivers. The signs on NSW roads a few years back were simple, pithy and aimed at the pocket, rather than at emotions. People who failed to pay their fines were gaoled - not let off with a few hours of community service after racking up thousands of dollars in unpaid fines. Failure to keep left unless passing, policed in Australia, was also alleviated by simple signs on median barriers saying something like $90 unless passing. It did not need further explanation, because people are constantly reminded of the law. Speed warnings took the form of huge signs carrying mock speedometers, reading "40, 50, 60, $90, $120 . . ."

Mark Longley
Speed is practically irrelevant to the road toll.
The speed limit was raised in the USA - accidents and fatalities fell. Germanys autobahns are not littered with dead. The UK is sinking under the weight of speed cameras and police traffic monitoring and surveillance cameras - and all the while road deaths increase - and the Police and government continue to lie to us. (Different country - same lies). The truth can be found at www.safespeed.org.uk Outside built up areas - no speed limits are necessary. (Isle of Man, Germany, and others manage perfectly well). Those who travel faster than their vehicles, abilities and the conditions will allow, will do so regardless of any legislation. Why are police prosecuting speeders on roads where it is safe to travel at high speed? Because it's an easy buck. Also the nonsense about driving under the influence of cannabis is laughable. Nobody drives more slowly or carefully than someone who has been smoking cannabis. If the government could just tax cannabis properly they should find it far preferable to alcohol, (which is of course bar far the most dangerous and damaging drug in our society).

Tamsin
When talking about the road toll and speed, it is a matter of science. Physics does not lie - the faster you go, the bigger the mess. LTSA/Police have hit the nail on the head. Too many lives are lost on our roads. But slogans do not save lives. The real emphasis should be on driver education and stricter penalties for those who disobey the law. I am disgusted by the high number of repeat traffic offenders. While young drivers are not the only ones at fault, I believe we should start there - education, education, education. Three strikes against your drivers licence and you are banned from driving until you are 25. Maybe then, we could create a new generation of drivers with the skills to respect their vehicles, the road and other drivers.

Trilby
I am always irritated by those righteous police pronouncements on particular accidents declaring that speed was a factor. Well of course it was! Speed is the whole reason for travelling by motor vehicle instead of walking. With greater speed comes greater likelihood of death or injury if there IS a crash - but since the chance of actually crashing varies with road standard, car quality and driver ability, the overall level of risk can be low enough in some circumstances to make very high speeds acceptable. Accepting some risks is a part of life. We do not cower at home maximising safety, avoiding all situations where something disastrous might happen. We balance the chances of each type of disaster with its consequences, and gamble daily with life and limb, love and money. So it is with driving. People will drive at a level of risk they are willing to accept. The better the roads get, the better the cars get, the better the drivers get, the higher the speeds will rise - and this is a good thing. Travel times will decrease, and people will be happier because of it. Those few accidents that do occur will be more horrendous, but there won't be as many of them, provided people judge the risk correctly. This last point shows where the majority of road policing should be focussed: on those drivers who, because their perception of risk is flawed, or their own personal safety is of low value to them, drive so fast that they pose a greater risk to other motorists than those others wish to face. The policy should not be aimed at reducing speed overall, but reducing danger by preventing unsafe speed. So, the speed limit should vary depending on road, vehicle, driver, weather and lighting, traffic volume and other conditions - but an enforceable policing policy would be based around setting reasonable speed limits for particular sections of road. 100km/hr is probably about right for the general open road. Most of our roading network cannot be travelled at a steady 100km/hr but people are not stupid - they slow down for the corners. Stretches of road known as accident black spots - indicating where drivers consistently misjudge the danger - could be given a limit of 80km/hr. Better-engineered stretches of road could have a limit of 120km/hr and long straight stretches or motorways 140km/hr. I