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National ditches Labour's 'anti-car ideology'- promises to restore speed limits

Author
Bernard Orsman,
Publish Date
Sun, 24 Sep 2023, 12:06pm

National ditches Labour's 'anti-car ideology'- promises to restore speed limits

Author
Bernard Orsman,
Publish Date
Sun, 24 Sep 2023, 12:06pm

National is promising to undo the Government’s “blanket speed limit reductions” and return many state highways to 100km/h and local roads to 50km/h, except where it would be unsafe to do so.

Transport spokesman Simeon Brown said as well as doing away with many 80km/h speed reductions on state highways and 30km/h on local roads, National will look at increasing the speed limit on new highways to 110km/h.

“New highways like Transmission Gully and the Kāpiti Expressway, near Wellington, were designed for vehicles to travel at 110km/h but Labour has mostly imposed a 100km/h speed limit. Both roads will rise to 110km/h under National,” Brown said.

The speed limit on the Pūhoi to Warkworth motorway would also rise to 110km/h if a current review finds that would be safe.

National plans to increase the speed limit to 110km/h on the Pūhoi to Warkworth highway if a review finds that would be safe. Photo / Jonathan Kubiak

National plans to increase the speed limit to 110km/h on the Pūhoi to Warkworth highway if a review finds that would be safe. Photo / Jonathan Kubiak

In Auckland, National’s policy signals the end of subsidies for Auckland Transport’s “Safe Speeds” programme that has seen speed limits reduced on thousands of local roads with lower speeds about to be rolled out on another 1646 roads from December.

Brown told the Herald that a National Government will not provide funding from the National Land Transport Fund - money collected from fuel taxes - to Auckland Transport (AT) and other councils for “Road to Zero” projects to slow people down, and up to $450,000 on building raised pedestrian crossings.

The “Safe Speeds” programme is a key part of AT’s “Road to Zero” goal of no deaths or serious injuries on roads by 2050.

Brown said under the guise of safety, Labour has exposed its anti-car ideology by slowing down New Zealanders going about their daily lives.

 “National will repeal and replace the rules that set speed limits so that economic impacts - including travel times - and the views of road users and local communities count, alongside safety,” he said.

National's transport spokesman Simeon Brown. Photo / Bevan Conley

National's transport spokesman Simeon Brown. Photo / Bevan Conley

“We anticipate this resulting in highways going back to 100km/h speed limits, except where it would be unsafe to do so. Similarly, we’ll restore local roads to 50km/h from 30, except where that would be unsafe.

“It makes no sense to have roads that can safely accommodate higher speed limits, only to require motorists to drive more slowly.”

The speed reduction, he said, was part of Labour’s expensive ‘Road to Zero’ road safety campaign, which has not worked.

“The road toll was 350 in 2019 when ‘Road to Zero’ was introduced, and it rose to 374 last year.”

Under National, Brown said, road safety will be focused on issues such as alcohol and drugs which is the number one killer on the roads.

“This Government has dropped the ball on both these issues with a lack of breath-testing and hasn’t been able to implement oral roadside drug testing.

“We will also reduce the use of road cones and limit temporary speed restrictions where they are not justified,” he said.

Many speed limits on local roads in Auckland have been reduced to 30km/h. Photo / Dean Purcell

Many speed limits on local roads in Auckland have been reduced to 30km/h. Photo / Dean Purcell

Meanwhile, AT has removed an advertisement for its Safe Speeds programme following a complaint by Brown to the Advertising Standards Authority.

Brown was rankled by AT’s claim in an advertisement there had been a “38 per cent decrease in road deaths where speed limits were changed, compared to where no changes were made”.

His beef was AT overstated the benefits of speed limit reductions during consultation on the latest draft proposals without the statistical evidence to back them up.

“AT should be providing correct information to help Aucklanders make up their own minds on the proposed speed limit reductions rather than using ratepayers’ money to tell them what they should think,” Brown said.

The Advertising Standards Authority decision said the parties had settled the matter with AT agreeing to pull the advertising, but Brown claimed the information was still on AT’s website.

An AT spokesman said it had not pulled any advertising as a result of the complaint because the consultation period had ended by the time the complaint was made.

“With respect to the website content, our road safety engineering team is quite comfortable with the way the information is presented,” the spokesman said.

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