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Why did you have to set new speed limits?

Eight people died and 30 people were seriously injured in crashes on these roads between 2009 and 2018.

There are numerous roadside hazards along the route such as large trees and roadside drains, including a particularly winding and tortuous section north of Motutere. There are a diverse range of vehicles and people using this stretch of SH1, including trucks shifting freight, commuters, holiday makers, international tourists and cyclists. For many, SH1 is also the ‘street’ they live on and the place they call home.

We talked to the community and others about making this stretch of road safer. Some members of the community advised us they felt the current speed limits on some sections of the road were too high to be safe.

Making speed limits safe and appropriate for this road is something we can do now to help prevent people from being killed or seriously injured.

What are the new permanent speed limits and where do they start/stop?

Location Current speed limit New speed limit from 12 October 2020
Waitahanui, 1.33km north of Hurae Road to 80m south of Wairau Avenue 70km/h

60km/h with variable speed limit of 40km/h

The variable speed limit will lower the speed limit from 60km/h outside the school to 40km/h at peak school traffic times which are:

  • 35 minutes before the start of school until the start of school, and
  • 20 minutes at the end of school, beginning no earlier than five minutes before the end of school
  • it may also operate for 10 minutes at any other time when there is school-related activity.

The variable speed limit will be displayed on electronic signs located outside the school at 470m north of Hurae Road and 120m north of Hurau Road.

Hatepe to Halletts Bay, 240m north of Rereahu Avenue to 3.075km south of Rereahu Road, Hatepe 100km/h 80km/h
Halletts Bay to Motutere, 3.075km south of Rereahu Avenue, Hatepe to 160m south of Waitapu Road, Motutere 100km/h 60km/h
Motutere to Waitetoko, 160m south of Waitapu Road, Motutere to 130m north of Rawhira Road, Waitetoko 100km/h 80km/h
Waitetoko to Oruatua, 130m north of Rawhira Road, Waitetoko to 170m south of Oruatua Avenue, Te Rangiita 100km/h and 70km/h 60km/h
Motuoapa, 140m north of Rangimoana Avenue to 130m south of Parekarangaranga Street, Motuoapa 80km/h 60km/h
Motuoapa to Turangi, 130m south of Parekarangaranga Street, Motuoapa to 280m south of Waiotaka Road, Turangi 100km/h 80km/h
Turangi, 230m south of Waiotaka Road to 345m south of Te Arahori Street, Turangi 80k/h 60km/h

How were those limits decided?

The speed review process involves numerous steps that help determine the speed limits we propose at consultation. Issues about speed on this stretch of SH1 have been persistently raised by the community and stakeholders.

Traffic volumes, including heavy vehicles, have been increasing. On average, about 6,800 vehicles use this section of SH1 every day, which is an increase from the 5,400 vehicles per day, 10 years ago.

A technical assessment was completed which considered the road itself, the traffic volumes, the crash history, and the way people are currently travelling on this road. That assessment was also informed through engagement with numerous stakeholders and the community.

Following the technical assessment, we undertook formal consultation where we asked stakeholders and the community to make submissions on the proposed new speed limits and variable school speed zone and whether there were any other factors that needed to be considered in making our decision. The consultation period was open for four weeks and once it had closed, we analysed the submissions and re-analysed our technical information.

The consultation for the proposed speed limit changes is not a vote, it is about seeking valuable local and community input so that we can consider wider factors and context into our decisions.

For more information about how we reached these decisions, read our consultation summary report.

Consultation summary report [PDF, 1.3 MB]
Speed review process

When do the speed limit changes come into effect and how are the public being notified?

The new speed limits and the variable speed limit in the school zone will take effect from 12 October 2020. The public will be notified of the new permanent speed limits through newspaper and radio advertisements, information on the Waka Kotahi website, and social media posts.

Why aren’t the limits being retained at 100km/h and 70km/h?

The review undertaken assessed that the various 100km/h and 70km/h speeds were not safe and appropriate for the route.

During consultation, it was proposed to reduce the speed limit between Taupō Airport and Waitahanui from 100km/h to 80km/h. Waka Kotahi is currently considering installing a central median barrier from the Taupō Airport roundabout to the northern end of Waitahanui. The speed will remain at 100km/h whilst this is being investigated. If this section of the highway is made safer by installing a safety barrier, it could mean the safe and appropriate speed can remain at 100km/h. Waka Kotahi will continue to update the community and road users about the safety barrier project and the final decision on this speed limit change as we work through the process.

Flexible road safety (median) barriers

How many people have died or been seriously injured on this route?

Eight people died and 30 people were seriously injured in crashes on this stretch of SH1 between 2009 and 2018.

What will lowering the speed limit really do?

Less speed means less harm. A small change in speed makes a big difference. Speed affects both the likelihood of a crash, and the severity of it. Even when speed doesn’t cause the crash, it is most likely to determine whether anyone is killed or injured or walks away unharmed. Fewer crashes will also reduce the amount of time the road is closed due to crashes and reduce inconvenience to drivers.

Won’t the new lower speed limits mean the trip will take a lot longer?

Over the entire route, from Taupō to Turangi, the new permanent speed limits are expected to increase travel times on average by one minute and 30 seconds.

Some people over-estimate the time they will lose if they drive at a slower speed. When you factor in things like congestion travel times don’t vary as much as you think when a speed limit is reduced. Based on existing mean travel times, the new permanent speed limits are expected to have minimal impact on travel times for those using this stretch of SH1.

Increasing safety can also improve journey times. Many of us have been on our roads when there has been a serious crash. These traumatic crashes cause significant physical and emotional harm and they also create additional costs and delays for other road users. When a serious accident requires this stretch of SH1 to be closed, the only alternative route via SH32 and 41, is much longer and more arduous to drive.

Did you consult with the public on these changes?

Yes. Between October and November 2019, we formally consulted with the public on the proposed permanent speed limits. We received 120 submissions.

Consultation summary report [PDF, 1.3 MB]
Consultation submissions [PDF, 507 KB]

What other infrastructure safety improvements are planned?

In addition to reducing the speed limit through Waitahanui to 60km/h, a variable speed limit in the Te Kura o Waitahanui school zone will be installed adjacent to Te Kura o Waitahanui that will lower the speed limit to 40km/h during peak school times.

The variable speed limit will:

  • lower the speed limit from 60km/h outside the school to 40km/h at peak school traffic times
    • 35 minutes before the start of school until the start of school, and
    • 20 minutes at the end of school, beginning no earlier than five minutes before the end of school
    • it may also operate for 10 minutes at any other time when there is school-related activity.

The variable speed limit will be displayed on electronic signs located outside the school at 405m north of Hurae Road and 155m north of Hurau Road. Installation of the electronic signage and other improvements to the road near the school will be completed at the same time as the new speed limit signage is installed, 12 October 2020.

There are other safety improvements planned in Waitahanui including improving the school entrance, footpaths and road markings, taking out roadside hazards such as a power pole, replacing school warning signs and making the road safer to cross outside the school. These are scheduled to take place over the summer.

Can you tell us more about the median barriers proposed on SH1 between Taupō airport roundabout and Waitahanui?

During consultation, it was proposed to reduce the speed limit between Taupō Airport and Waitahanui from 100km/h to 80km/h. Waka Kotahi is currently considering installing a central median barrier from the Taupō Airport roundabout to the northern end of Waitahanui. The speed will remain at 100km/h whilst this is being investigated. If this section of the highway is made safer by installing a safety barrier, it could mean the safe and appropriate speed can remain at 100km/h. Waka Kotahi will continue to update the community and road users about the safety barrier project and the final decision on this speed limit change as we work through the process.

Flexible road safety (median) barriers
Safe Network Programme

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