AA calls for a rethink on SH6 speed limit proposal

3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineOctober 16, 2019

The AA is concerned that the NZ Transport Agency is losing public confidence by proposing a blanket speed limit reduction along the whole road between Nelson and Blenheim.

AA general manager motoring affairs Mike Noon says the scale of public consternation is clear from the number of signatures opposing the proposal that a local petition has received in a matter of days.

“This is a message the NZTA needs to take on board,” says Noon.

“The general public understand that speed limit changes are needed in some high-risk places and people aren‘t slow in speaking up when they think a road is dangerous. But in this case, there are a large number of voices saying they have comfortably and safely driven the road at 100km/h for years so they can‘t understand why a 114km-long road suddenly needs to be travelled at 80km/h and some parts even 60km/h.”

Noon says the strength of feeling in the community is an indication that the road needs more careful consideration and a blanket speed limit reduction isn‘t suitable.

“NZTA‘s own information systems in fact still advises that sections of the road are appropriate for driving at 100km/h – for example between Renwick and Havelock – so the AA can‘t understand why the proposal doesn‘t recognise this.

“NZTA is right that faster speeds result in worse consequences when people crash. But they‘re fighting against nature to get people to go slower if it doesn‘t feel natural. Instead, if a slower speed is necessary, you need to engineer a road differently so it feels natural to drive at the slower speed. Large parts of SH6 don‘t explain to drivers at the proposed lower speed limits.”

Noon says the AA is talking to the NZTA and Ministry of Transport about achieving better consistency in speed limit changes throughout the county.

“We don‘t want a situation where people drive between regions and find that a road that would be signed at 100km/h in one area, is signed at 80km/h or 60km/h in another,” he says.

The AA will contribute during the SH6 consultation period, with a focus on speed limit changes happening only in areas that are high risk.