What is the legal rule that applies to the setting of speed limits? 

The Land Transport: Setting of Speed Limits Rule 2022 came into force on 19 May 2022, and replaced the previous Land Transport: Setting of Speed Limits Rule 2017. 

Speed limit changes that commenced, and were consulted on in accordance with the 2017 Rule, are able to be completed under the transitional provisions of the 2022 Rule. 

How many submissions were received?

A total of 729 submissions from the public and stakeholder organisations were received via the online submission form, hard copy submission form, email and phone.

How many submissions supported the proposed speed limits?

People were not asked whether they supported or did not support the proposed speed limits. We provided information on why we were proposing these speed limits, which included that we had spoken to mana whenua, Rotorua Lake Council, Whakatāne District Council, locals, community groups and businesses about the current speed limits on SH30. We heard the current speeds on SH30 were unsafe and people would like to see more consistent speeds, and some lowered.

Between 2010 and 2019 10 people have been killed and 73 seriously injured. Most of these crashes have been head-on, run off road and speed related. 

Some of the common themes about where and how speed needs to be reduced include high speed stretches of road, dangerous intersections and bends where drivers take chances to turn on or off the road.

Child safety around schools is a major concern, particularly during school drop off and pick up times outside the schools and at bus stops located around the lakes. People would like to see variable speed zones introduced at the schools.

People asked for more consistent and safer speeds to slow down traffic, to discourage drivers from accelerating and decelerating at tight corners and along the straights.

Lowering the speed limit in areas where there are houses, businesses and shops immediately alongside SH30 was asked for to make it safer for people to turn on/off the state highway and to create more space for turning vehicles.

We heard about unsafe speeds at intersections, especially during peak traffic periods. People take chances to turn onto SH30, and then wait in the middle of the road for a gap in the traffic.

The public were asked if there were any other factors we should take into consideration when setting the permanent speed limits.

What factors were raised?

We appreciate members of the public taking the time to provide feedback on the roads many of them travel every day. Submissions included the following key themes:

Compliance and enforcement

Several comments expressed concern about policing of the proposed new speed limits as current speed limits are already ignored. Some that support the proposed reduced speeds also expressed concerns that they do not think people would adhere to the new limits and believe reducing speeds would cause more crashes. Better policing of the existing speed limits, monitoring for dangerous driving and the potential introduction of speed cameras would be some of the preferred solutions than reducing speeds alone.

NZ Police indicated that with Safe System Principles in mind, they support the proposed lower speed limits for SH30 between Rotorua and Whakatāne.

Driver behaviour/education

Many people commented that they thought a big safety issue on this road was dangerous driving by others using the road. Unsafe driver behaviour included dangerous overtaking, people not observing the current speed limit (especially around the lakes where there are many bends), and not driving to the conditions. Lack of driver education is perceived as one of the main reasons for crashes. People also expressed concern about slower drivers or trucks causing others to become frustrated and more likely to take risks to overtake, due to a lack of passing lanes or safe passing opportunities.

Road condition, maintenance and design

Several people expressed safety concerns, such as condition and design of the road. Particularly along the narrow sections through the bends in/around the lakes. The need for a roundabout at high traffic intersections was mentioned, such as at:

  • Pacific Coast Highway/SH30: considered dangerous, with a confusing slip-lane area causing unpredictable behaviours
  • Shaw Road/SH30: not handling current demands (i.e., actual traffic growth has outstripped that predicted when the intersection was built)
  • Mill Road/SH30: needs intersection enhancement and made safer.

As mentioned earlier, more passing lanes or slow vehicle bays were high on the list of design change requirements from the community. Furthermore, many people also expressed concerns about general wear and tear on the road such as potholes and resealing, saying these need to be addressed on a more regular basis. 

Keep current speed limits

Feedback we received showed a vast majority of people think the road should be kept at the current respective speed limits and they cited several reasons for this, including:

  • the road having a number of long straight open rural sections
  • concern around an increase in travel time and a resulting loss of productivity, and increase in costs
  • the impact of driver frustration from having to drive at a slower speed
  • being more difficult to enforce.

However, some also noted that road users are confused about the many variable speed limits set on the road and would welcome an average speed of 70km/h (built-up areas) and 90km/h (rural straights) for most of the road but would not support 60km/h (built-up areas) or 80km/h (rural straights).

Will you action any of the issues raised by the public?

The submissions did not identify any issues that Waka Kotahi had not already considered, however, there was feedback supporting lower speeds where they had not been proposed or at townships threshold points (i.e., speed limit change point).

Weren’t you going to set the permanent speed limits you proposed regardless of what the submissions were?

All road controlling authorities (including Waka Kotahi) are bound by the Land Transport: Setting of Speed Limits Rule 2017 and the new Land Transport: Setting of Speed Limits rule 2022 which generally requires speed limits to be safe and appropriate.

The consultation process is an opportunity to ask stakeholders and the community to identify factors or issues we need to take into consideration when making the final decision. This is in addition to the factors we have already identified as part of the assessment process, such as the nature of the road, crash history, and travel times.

The submissions we received did not identify any issues that Waka Kotahi had not already considered, however, there was feedback supporting lower speeds where they had not been proposed or changes/amendments to speed limit change points. We reviewed the feedback received and carefully assessed these sections again. We agree to the feedback to change the speed limit at Te Puna Whakareia and extend the speed limit change points at Te Teko and Awakeri School.

When taking all the factors and information we had about the route into consideration, the proposed speed limits of 80km/h and 60km/h were determined as the safe and appropriate speeds for these roads.

Why was the consultation period only six weeks?

Under the Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2022, consultation must run for at least four weeks. Although this speed limit was consulted on in accordance with the previous 2017 Rule which did not specify a minimum consultation period, consultation was undertaken for a minimum of four weeks or 20 working days, and therefore meets the requirements for the 2022 Rule.

On 21 January 2022, Waka Kotahi started formal consultation. Consultation was open for four weeks (20 working days) and closed on 18 February 20222. Due to a minor typing error on the consultation form shared with the community, a further two weeks (14 March to 28 March 2022) of consultation was provided.

Why has it taken so long?

Changing speed limits is a legal process and all speed reviews undertaken by Waka Kotahi are developed and delivered in line with the Land Transport: Setting of Speed Limits Rule 2017 and the transitional provisions of the Land Transport: Setting of Speed Limits Rule 2022. Once Waka Kotahi completes the analysis of the consultation submissions, and the technical review, there are numerous steps to carefully follow, including the documentation to make a decision and announcement.

How will the public be notified of the new speed limits?

The new permanent speed limit will be communicated to the public via newspaper advertising, radio advertising, a media release and the Waka Kotahi website.

The public will see the new speed limit signs in place from Monday 14 August 2023.

When do the new speeds become enforceable?

Installation of new speed limit signs will start on Monday 14 August 2023. Due to the nearly 80km long corridor, the 200 new signs will be installed over 2-3 weeks, weather permitting. Once the new sign is in place, that is the legal enforceable speed limit.