22 Dec 2022

Hundreds of roads in Auckland to get lower speed limits

3:19 pm on 22 December 2022
The government is expected announce on Monday the next step in its plans to introduce congestion charging in Auckland.

Many of Auckland's busy roads will be slightly slower come the new year. Photo: Stuff / David White via LDR

More than 1600 roads in Auckland are set to have their speed limits reduced by 30 March.

Auckland Transport Safety Lead Ping Sim said some of Auckland's busiest roads, particularly near schools, will have their limits lowered to 30 kilometres per hour.

A car crash at 50kmh was fatal in 80 percent of cases, but a crash at 30kmh would only kill 10 percent of people, Sim said.

"Vehicles travelling at speed are like fatal bullets.

"What we do when we change speed limits to survivable speeds, is we change those fatal bullets to rubber bullets. Yes, mistakes can still happen, but people don't end up dead or seriously injured."

Phase Three of the agency's speed reduction plan will impact a further 1646 roads, making up 19 percent of Auckland's total network.

Across all three phases, 39 percent of Auckland's road network will have had their speed limits reduced between 2020 and 2023.

Sim said lowering speed limits was particularly important for school children.

"Kids are telling us that they used to feel very overwhelmed and scared walking to school in 50kmh areas, and after those changes have been made to 30kmh they're feeling confident and safe.

"So are their parents and teachers, just to give them that freedom and independence to go where they need to go."

Compared to other developed nations, New Zealand fell well behind in terms of road safety.

Per capita, New Zealanders had almost twice as many fatal accidents as Australia, and more than three times as many as Norway.

"If our road safety conditions matched those of Victoria in Australia, 124 fewer New Zealanders would have died on our roads in each of the last three years."

The secret was the 30kmh speed limit, Sim said. International cities such as London, Paris and Melbourne had already embraced the lower speed limit for their busiest areas.

"Roads where speed limits were changed had a 30 percent drop in road deaths.

"Compare that to roads where no changes were made, those roads had a 9 percent increase in road deaths. That's a 39 percent difference."

Auckland Transport's Customer Satisfaction Survey indicated that two in three Aucklanders were happy to accept a five-minute delay if it meant roads were safer.

Test scenarios performed by AT showed that, with speed limits lowered on 39 percent of Auckland's roads, an average 20-minute trip would only be delayed by 15 seconds.

The cost-benefit analysis indicated that for every dollar spent, Auckland Council would save $9.40 in benefits.

"If nothing is done, within five years one in every two Aucklanders will personally know somebody who has been in a serious accident," Sim said.

Auckland's busy urban roads were some of the most dangerous in the country, she said.

"When we look at risk, we can see that 50kmh arterial roads in Auckland collect the most amount of harm.

"They are roads we all need to use, and we need to find a way to use them safely together."

Auckland Transport hopes to reduce the number of road fatalities to zero by 2050.

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