A key element of the Safer Journeys national road safety strategy is safer speeds. In some cases, particularly where investment to make roads safer at current speeds cannot be justified, this means reduced speed limits for both urban and rural roads.
This research considered the level of acceptance of and compliance with reduced speed limits. It examined information from a number of speed limit changes around New Zealand, including town centres, along strip shopping, suburban streets, mountainous roads, flat state highways and local roads. Before and after speeds were compared for any speed reductions and driver compliance.
The acceptance of reduced speed limits was researched using the limited literature available on this topic, a web questionnaire survey and the experience of three local councils. These showed a greater acceptance of reduced speed limits on hilly and mountainous rural roads and in shopping streets.
There was less acceptance for reduced speed limits in suburban streets (except immediately around schools) and on straight flat rural roads with a lot of roadside hazards and frequently occurring priority intersections.
Drivers do not appear to understand the crash risks of these scenarios, even when relatively extensive media and consultation programmes are undertaken.