The speed limit on State Highway 5 through Waiotapu has been reduced from 100km/h to 80km/h.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency announced the decision in a media statement this afternoon.
It consulted on a proposed change in October 2019, after a review of the road found the existing 100km/h limit was not safe or right for the road.
From Monday, July 6, the permanent speed limit through Waiotapu will be 80km/h.
Director Regional Relationships Steve Mutton said in the statement the community had called for change on this road and previously presented Waka Kotahi with a petition calling for a lower speed limit.
"We've listened to what the community has told us and our assessment found the current 100km/h limit isn't safe or right for Waiotapu, which gets its fair share of traffic.
"There are several businesses in Waiotapu, as well as tourist destinations nearby. As a result, there are a lot of drivers trying to turn across traffic travelling at 100km/h on a relatively narrow section of road.
"The road layout also makes it hard to see what's approaching. Reducing the speed limit is a simple but effective way of making this stretch safer," Mutton said.
Between 2009 and 2018 there were 20 crashes at Waiotapu, and five people were seriously injured.
"Speed is a factor in every crash. Even when it isn't the cause, it can be the difference between someone walking away unharmed or being seriously injured or even killed. By making change now, we can help prevent more crashes on this road and reduce the risk of a tragedy.
"The traffic volumes, crash history and nature of this road, mean 80km/h is the safe and appropriate speed for SH5 Waiotapu. This is in line with the speeds people currently travel along the road."
The setting of the permanent speed limits followed engagement with the police, the AA and the Road Transport Forum, and consultation with the public.
"We thank everyone that provided feedback on the proposed speed limit. Most submissions supported a lower speed, and people also made suggestions about improved signs and safer intersections. We will continue to monitor this road and already have other safety improvements under way on SH5."
Rotorua Rural Community Board chairwoman Shirley Trumper previously told the Rotorua Daily Post getting to the submissions period for Waiotapu had been a long journey, starting with a petition five or six years ago.
Trumper said while 80km/h would be welcome, she called for a 60km/h limit as the road was driven by "every vehicle going south on SH5".
Waiotapu Tavern manager Sandy Nicholls agreed with Trumper's calls for a limit lower than the proposed 80km/h.
"Even at 80, it's still fast ... Near misses happen at least once a day, sometimes up to 10 times a day.
"In the tavern, you hear trucks on their horns," Nicolls told the Rotorua Daily Post in October last year.
In addition to a safer speed, Waka Kotahi said in the statement it was making SH5 safer between Wairakei and State Highway 38 with improvements such as roadside safety barriers, a wide centreline and rumble strips.
- Supplied copy