24 Sep 2023

Election 2023: National promises to end new speed limit reductions

5:42 pm on 24 September 2023
Speed limit sign

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

National is promising to end recently imposed speed limit reductions if it wins the election - a move supported by ACT.

Spokesman Simeon Brown said National would return many state highways to 100kph from 80 and local roads to 50 from 30.

He said the party would also design new highways where motorists could travel at 110.

National Party MP Simeon Brown

Simeon Brown Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

"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.

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

He said National would also reduce the use of road cones and limit temporary speed restructions.

"Temporary traffic management keeps roadside workers and motorists safe during construction or maintenance activities," he said.

"However, excessive use of road cones and speed limit reductions - sometimes left in force when work is complete - simply slow traffic and frustrate drivers, without improving safety."

Brown said the current limits were slowing down people from going about their daily lives, under the guise of safety.

The National Party still would not say whether it had done any analysis on how the road toll would change under its newly announced transport policy.

"We're going to require robust cost-benefit analysis for the setting of speed limits," Brown said.

"This is currently not required by NZTA or local road controlling authorities. They are not required to measure the benefits versus the impact on travel times [for motorists]."

Labour leader Chris Hipkins said National's policy was something that had already been announced at the beginning of the year.

"I do think there are some stretches of road where Waka Kotahi have made some interesting decisions that I don't necessary agree with.

"But Waka Kotahi is the agency that sets the speed limit. You need to change the law if ministers are going to start setting the speed limit.

"I'm surprised the National Party is saying no speed limits should ever be reduced anywhere, particularly where roads become more dangerous over time.

"There is a responsibility on government to make sure speed limits are reviewed, but I've said that should be on the 1 percent of roads that are the highest risk."

Asked whether the reduced speed limits had had any impact on the road toll, Hipkins said they were just one of the factors that contributed to it.

"I think we need to be continuing to focus on road safety improvements. Around the country people will see evidence of this: wire rope barriers going in, road shoulders being widened, and corners being evened out in order to make our roads safer."

The ACT Party supported National's policy, but said it was only one part of improving the roading system.

ACT transport spokesperson Simon Court said his party would invite private partners to build infrastructure and introduce a toll road system.

He said ACT would also ask councils to focus on making roads safer, not slower.

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