The campaign by bureaucrats to lower the speed limits on New Zealand roads because they believe the roads are just not good enough to support a 100km an hour speed limit continues to bubble away.
But now opponents have found a real life situation that appears to sink the idea.
On State Highway 1 in the South Island, there’s a section of about 12km linking Cheviot and Kaikōura over the Hundalee Hills. It’s tricky and windy and prone to crashes. The average speed through the section is 55 to 59 kmh.
So after the 2016 quake which further degraded the road the NZTA lowered the speed limit to 80kmh and then again to 60kmh.
Which makes sense because that’s the speed your average driver drives at through that bit of road and with a speed limit it might make the fools who drive too fast slow down and stay on their side of the road - actually, stay on the road full stop.
But according to the local fire chief it has made absolutely no difference at all to the number of incidents on the road. In fact it might have made it worse.
There’s a local truck driver called Owen who knows why. It’s all down to impatience. He trucks through the section at 60 k and most of the time it’s fine but then there’s some who scream up behind him, can’t stand 60 k so try to pass him on a windy road. He says they try to pass on blind corners. They scream past him at 20 and 30ks over the speed limit.
So there are some they say this is proof that lowered speed limits don’t work. To me it’s proof not the speed limit’s fault but the idiot drivers who flout the law and common sense.
I would like these guys to rein it in or stop driving but that’s a forlorn hope. So there’s a part of me that doesn’t care if they hurtle off the road to their death as long as they don’t take anyone else with them.
The Government is on a three-year mission to improve road safety.
Some $1.4 billion is being invested in improvements like new barriers, passing lanes and wider shoulders, with the hope of upgrading 870km of high-risk state highways by 2021.
I say hurry up and keep the idiots away from my side of the road.
Meanwhile, NZTA is expected to announce a list of areas for proposed lower speed limits in the next week or so, and the public will be consulted. I’m not opposed to this, theoretically, as long as the speed limits make sense taking into account the road and the risk factors.