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Blanket Speed Limit Reductions Not Supported by Australian Motorists

17.7.2005

The Australian Automobile Association (AAA) says that blanket speed limit reductions in Tasmania are not the answer to reducing the road toll.

 

The Executive Director of the Australian Automobile Association (AAA), Lauchlan McIntosh, said in Hobart today that Australia's motoring clubs, representing some 6.4 million Australian motorists, were aware of the debate instigated by the Tasmanian government, and viewed the Tasmanian Government's proposals as potentially experimental at the best.

 

"If this goes ahead in Tasmania," said Mr McIntosh, "blanket speed limit reductions will result in more speeding fines, as the government has admitted, and greater frustration for motorists without a road safety dividend.

 

Most motorists are responsible drivers, who drive to the conditions of the road environment in which they find themselves.

 

"The biggest road safety gains will come from providing motorists with safer roads, as clearly stated in the Federal Government National Road Strategy, which estimates almost 50% of the road toll reduction will come from improving the safety of roads.

 

"A systematic approach to encouraging safe drivers, in safer vehicles, on safer roads needs to be adopted, rather than proposing knee jerk responses such as wholesale reductions in speed limits", Mr McIntosh said.

 

RACT Group Chief Executive, Greg Goodman, said that the RACT favoured a system of speed zoning. "This does not set artificially low speeds, but lowers speed limits on dangerous sections of roadways. Currently, motorists are often ill informed that they are entering a zone where the maximum speed limit on the road may well be unsafe for the approaching section of roadway".

 

"Reducing speed limits will have no impact on the small number of irresponsible drivers who excessively speed above current limits, those crashes resulting from anti social behaviour, or crashes due to excessive speeding for the conditions of the road environment.

 

"Enforcing artificially low speed limits does not address the real problems, and only results in conflict between Police and motorists, leading to entrenched public perceptions that speed camera operations are principally aimed at revenue raising."

 

"As well as speed zoning, the RACT believes that speed camera revenue should be directed towards safety, awareness, and blackspot programs. The Government puts little or no direct funds into road safety education initiatives. Instead the motorist funds the work of the Road Safety Task Force through the MAIB premiums that motorists pay. Meanwhile, speed camera fines go into government General Revenue in contrast to most other states where speed camera revenue funds blackspot and road safety awareness programs.

  

Nearly a decade after the establishment of the Road Safety Task Force, the continuing incidence of speeding in Tasmania simply reinforces the RACT position that the government needs to put more resources into education and awareness about the dangers of excessive speeding.

 

"There are three prime elements in road safety: engineering, education and enforcement. The RACT is concerned that the only area which the Government vigorously pursues is enforcement."

 

The RACT is urging all motorists to have their say in response to the Government's proposals. People who are unable to access the Internet to respond to the Government survey, can pick up a copy from any RACT branch.

 

Background

 

The RACT put its position on speed zoning to the government two years ago, when the Government commenced its speed limit review. It is disappointing that it has taken this long for the Government to announce some proposals.

 

The RACT called for speed limits to be realistic to maximise compliance by motorists, as well as recommending the following initiatives following a survey of its members–

 

  • a review and audit of advisory speed warning signs and greater use of these signs
  • to provide advice to motorists who wish to travel at a safe speed. rationalisation of speed limits to reduce the number of changes on short sections of road
  • removal of the 80 km/h buffer speed zones and replace them with "60 ahead" sign etc to warn motorists of the oncoming lower speed zone and to reduce confusion.
  • "end of limit" signs rather than the open road limit sign, to reduce the perception that the open speed limit is a safe target speed rather than the maximum limit
  • 80 km/h limit on gravel roads;
  • speed limits to be painted on the road, particularly in 40 km/h school zones,
  • extend the 50 km/h urban default limit to most of the urban area with only the main through roads and arterials being signed at 60 or above.
  • increase the 100 km/h speed limits to 110 km/h on Hobart's high standard
  • northern outlet and Southern Outlet similar to Hobart's Eastern Outlet and Launceston's Southern Outlet.

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