The Australasian College of Road Safety (ACRS) urges the New Zealand government to implement evidence-based research following the amendments to speed limit regulations, announced by Transport Minister Simeon Brown recently.
This call to action comes in response to rising concerns about the correlation between speed and the frequency and severity of road crashes. Evidence-based research consistently demonstrates the critical role of reduced speed limits in enhancing better road safety outcomes.
A wealth of research consistently shows that speed is a major factor in road crash occurrences and outcomes. According to a report by the World Health Organization, a 5% cut in average speed can result in a 30% reduction in the number of fatal road crashes. Studies indicate that with each 1 km/h reduction in speed, there is a 2-3% decline in road crashes.
Death rates on New Zealand’s roads are among the highest in developed countries as seen in the World Health Organization, Global Status Report on Road Safety 2023, released on 13 December 2023.
“Ignoring international best practice is a backward step no matter how you look at it. It will not boost productivity and economic growth as claimed – it will only lead to more harm and trauma on our roads,” ACRS NZ Co-Chair Paul Durdin said.
This government has stepped back twenty years with this decision, which will result in more death and serious injury on New Zealand’s roads which already costs the New Zealand economy $4.4 billion every year.
Evidence-based speed management involves not just setting appropriate speed limits but also implementing strategies for road design and infrastructure, compliance, enforcement, and effective communication to road users. It is imperative that the New Zealand government considers these factors in their approach to road safety, rather than the populist approach we have seen from Minister Brown.
The ACRS pleads with the New Zealand government to take an evidence-based approach to setting and enforcing speed limits.