Safe speeds

Goal for 2020

Managing speed on the roading network to safe levels is crucial to reducing deaths and serious injuries because the results of all crashes are strongly influenced by impact speed.  In 2015, crashes that involved driving ‘too fast for the conditions’ resulted in 101 deaths and 496 serious injuries. This was 32 per cent of all deaths and 19 per cent of all injuries respectively.

Our Safe System goal is to reduce the number of speed-related crashes and the severity of crashes if they occur. Safer travel speeds that also support economic productivity will help achieve that goal.

By 2020, New Zealanders should expect all Road Controlling Authorities to apply a nationally consistent approach to speed limits that considers the Safe System approach. This approach will be reinforced by a consistent set of messages about what the appropriate speed is for different kinds of routes/situations and taking into account all road users (eg pedestrians and cyclists). 

Our safer speeds objectives are to:

  • Ensure a consistent sector-wide approach is adopted to manage speeds so they are appropriate for road function, design, safety, use and the surrounding land use
  • Support Road Controlling Authorities and other system designers identify and prioritise the parts of the network where better speed management will contribute most to reducing deaths and serious injuries, while supporting overall network efficiency
  • Support Road Controlling Authorities to have better conversations and engagement on road risk with their communities to improve understanding and support for speed management activities.

Where we are

The Safer Journeys Action Plan 2013-2015 contained an action to develop and implement a safer speeds programme. We have worked with our road safety partners and the Automobile Association to develop this programme.

The key outputs have been:

A new geospatial tool has also been developed to help Road Controlling Authorities identify where their roads and roadsides investment can best be targeted to reduce deaths and serious injuries for all crashes, and not just those where speed is officially recorded as a contributing factor.

Actions for 2016-2020

Two specific road and roadside initiatives in the Action Plan 2016-2020 complement the overall direction for speed management. These are:

  • Develop and implement a national programme of safety improvements on specified highest risk urban arterials that focuses on all modes, but particularly people who walk, or ride a bicycle or motorcycle/moped.
  • Develop and implement a national programme of lower cost safety improvements on higher risk local rural roads.

The 2015-18 National Land Transport Programme has made commitments to safer speeds (mainly through the Road User Safety and Road Policing activity classes). These are behaviourally targeted initiatives that will continue to strengthen the system.

New Zealand Police are expanding the network of fixed speed cameras across the country to encourage safer speeds on high-risk routes.

The Traffic Operations Centres will play an increasing role in managing travel speeds on high-volume networks to safe and efficient levels through the appropriate use of variable speed signs and other messaging.

Develop and implement a safer speed programme

Newer technologies such as red light cameras, point-to-point cameras, weigh-in-motion, automatic number plate recognition, and traffic operations technology offer further opportunities for encouraging smart and safe choices across a range of activities, not just for speed management.

Enabling smart and safe choices is the focus of Action 1 in the Action Plan 2016-2020. One of the enabler actions is the development of an automated compliance strategy by the end of 2017 to take advantage of 21st century compliance technology.

A multi-agency working group is looking at options for expanding the use of and optimising investment in automated compliance technologies and will report to the Minister of Transport by the end of 2017.

Safe System

A Safe road system increasingly free of death and serious injury