11 May 2015

Backing for speed limit cut

1:44 pm on 11 May 2015

The head of road policing is backing lowering the speed limit on many rural roads to 70 or 80 kilometres an hour in the wake of a horrendous weekend of deaths.

Ten people were killed in five separate crashes in a weekend police said was a shocking toll not seen for at least 30 years.

The crash took place close to Tauranga.

Three Auckland women from the same extended family were killed in a collision at Te Puna, near Tauranga. Photo: SUPPLIED

Assistant Commissioner for Road Policing Dave Cliff told Morning Report many roads around the country were simply not designed for the usual 100 km/h speed limit.

"We know those speed limits are absolutely fine on our motorway network where you can't have a head on crash, there's no intersections.

"But if you look at some of those winding country roads where you just can't safely travel at one hundred kilometres per hour, there's real potential by getting those speed limits down."

Among the victims were three Auckland women killed when their minivan collided with a car on State Highway 2 at Te Puna, just outside Tauranga, on Saturday night. Both vehicles burst into flames and the fire spread to trees nearby.

Peter Armstrong, who lives on a hill overlooking the road, said that stretch was notorious and authorities should take notice.

"In the last three or four years there's been about eight deaths in about two kilometres. It's been quite bad on the passing lanes."

Also on Saturday, two women and a man died in a collision on State Highway 3 south of Marton. Two of the victims died at the scene and the third later, in hospital.

"It was a nasty crash, really awful," said John Stretton of Taranaki St John Ambulance.

"We had two cars that appeared to have collided head on, and we had one patient in each of those vehicles who was entrapped."

On Sunday night two men died in a two-car crash on State Highway 1, just south of the Waimakiriri River, near Christchurch.

The Automobile Association says there is no simple answer to lowering the country's road toll.

Spokesman Dylan Thomsen said every fatal crash involved a number of factors so it was hard to know why the road toll was so high.

A huge amount of work was being done to get the road toll down but New Zealand could do better, he said, and improving the state of the country's highways would help.

Mr Cliff said current figures suggested another 180 more people will die on the roads before the year is out - and the toll did not need to be this bad.

"If we compare ourselves with the best performing countries in the world, such as the Netherlands or Sweden, about twice the number are being killed in road crashes in New Zealand."

He said the Transport Agency, and Transport Ministry were reviewing speed limits.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs