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Questions and answers about our speed management and road infrastructure work.


  • Why review speed limits?

    We’re reviewing speed limits to make sure they are safe and appropriate for the road. When speeds are safe for the road, simple mistakes don’t need to end in tragedy. 

    A small change in speed can make a big difference. Most crashes are caused by a few contributing factors. Even when speed doesn’t cause the crash, it is most likely to determine whether anyone is killed, injured, or walks away unharmed. Speed also reduces the opportunity to react to a mistake, yours or someone else’s – the faster you are travelling, the less time you have. 

    The introduction of safer speed limits is part of Road to Zero 2020-30, the Government’s road safety strategy, and aligns with the safe system approach, which acknowledges that even responsible people sometimes make mistakes when driving, and aims to minimise the impact of those errors. 

    Any proposal to drop speed limits is driven by the need to improve safety and reduce harm for everyone on our roads. It will help ensure that in coming years we do not have thousands of people dealing with a road tragedy, which could have been prevented or the harm minimised had people been driving at a slower speed. 

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  • What is the timeframe for doing these reviews?

    Making sure people have a chance to have their say is an important part of each review process. Timeframes for reviews will range from a few months to longer depending on what conversations have been had with communities, local and regional councils, road user representative groups and others with an interest in road safety. However, each review will be a priority for Waka Kotahi to progress as quickly as possible to prevent deaths and serious injuries. 

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  • How have you chosen the roads to prioritise?

    Making sure we get changes to speed limits right is not a quick process, and we have a number of communities across all New Zealand who are calling for reviews as well as identified high-risk routes. This means we need to prioritise some speed reviews to begin before others.

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  • How do speeds impact travel times?

    Our research shows that reducing speed limits has a negligible effect on journey times. 

    For trips where the maximum speed was reduced from 100km/h to 80km/h on a 10km length of road, journey times increased by only about 30–48 seconds. For local trips where the maximum speed was reduced from 50km/h to 40km/h, travel times increased by only about 11–42 seconds. To put this in context we know that even a 1km/h difference in speed can make a difference in whether someone survives a crash. 

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  • What does a speed review involve?

    A speed review involves:

    • A technical assessment of the road to establish the previous crash history, the average speed vehicles are travelling on the road, number of vehicles a day using the road, what is happening around the road in terms of housing, urban development, businesses, and other activity on the road. This helps to determine what a safe and appropriate speed for the road should be – and if it is out of step with current speed limits.
    • Engagement with affected communities, councils, road user representative groups and other stakeholders, to get feedback and local knowledge on how people are using the road, concerns and things to be aware of to potentially address in the review. This helps us to decide if lowering the speed limit is the best thing to do, where new speed limits might begin/end and if any other safety improvements (better signs, for example) might be needed.
    • Formal consultation with affected communities, councils, road user representative groups and other stakeholders. Changing a speed limit is a legal process so this step is when we show people a detailed proposed speed limit and the exact start and end points for it on the road and ask for any other additional information that might have an impact on the final decision.
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  • What do you mean by a safe speed?

    A speed limit that is both safe, and appropriate for the road function, design, and use. Many of New Zealand’s roads have seen a lot of changes to how they are used over the years, so it’s no surprise that the speed limits may not be safe for how we use the road now. 

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  • Which roads will you be reviewing speed limits on?

    The GPS sets out an expectation for Waka Kotahi and local road controlling authorities to focus on treating the top 10 percent of the network which will result in the greatest reduction in deaths and serious injuries as quickly as possible. It is important to note that a speed limit review may result in a proposal to lower the speed limit, or in a decision to undertake engineering improvements to make the road safe at its current speed limit. In some cases speed limit reviews may find that current speed limits are safe and appropriate without the need for engineering improvements. 

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  • What are standard safety interventions

    Waka Kotahi has developed a toolkit of standard safety treatments to make it easier for local government when they are shaping their safety programmes. The toolkit includes safety treatments such as median barriers, rumble strips, and widening centre lines, and will include treatments for both urban and rural environments. Each treatment in the toolkit has been approved by Waka Kotahi, reducing the requirement for further business cases. This will streamline approval processes, meaning safety improvements can be rolled out much faster.

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Safe Network Programme

  • What is the Safe Network Programme?

    The programme is a three-year collaborative initiative with local government that aims to save up to 160 deaths and serious injuries every year by making New Zealand’s highest risk roads safer. 

    Waka Kotahi will work in partnership with local government to find the right safety solutions for each region. Simplifying decision-making and approval processes around standard safety interventions will streamline the delivery of safety improvements. 

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  • Why do we need the programme?

    Road deaths have increased from 253 in 2013 to 378 in 2017. This is unacceptable. We need to do better, and we need to work quicker to change this. At least seven people die, and around 54 are reported seriously injured, every week on our roads. Each death and serious injury has a devastating and wide-reaching impact on families and communities. It also has a social cost to New Zealand of $84 million per week, or nearly $4.7 billion a year. The programme will save up to 160 deaths and serious injuries every year.

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  • How will the programme prevent 160 deaths and serious injuries every year?

    As soon as safety treatments like median barriers or rumble strips are installed, or safer speeds are implemented, they will start to save lives, and will continue to save lives every year after they are completed. To achieve this, Waka Kotahi will work hard to make sure each project is completed on time, following engagement with communities to make sure the right safety solutions are used.

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  • What makes the programme different to other safety programmes?

    The programme is different in that success relies heavily upon partnering with local government. It is not only about state highways, but also local roads – all connected to make a safer journey. The programme will be more rapidly delivered, including more streamlined approval processes and increased funding to encourage local government to invest in further safety interventions.

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  • How does this programme connect into other programmes already underway?

    The Safe Network Programme will support, and connect into, other safe roads and roadside safety programmes across the country.

    Waka Kotahi has a number of national projects and programmes already planned and / or underway to make our roads safe. What makes the Safe Network Programme different to earlier road safety programmes is its sharp focus on rapid delivery across the entire transport network – on both local roads and state highways.

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Local road programme