RTF hits back at speed management exclusion

In News3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJuly 1, 2021

The Road Transport Forum is opposing a rule change by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency that excludes RTF from having a say on speed management on New Zealand roads.

It means Waka Kotahi does not have to consult with the freight sector when setting road speed limits and instead suggests an independent speed management committee take on responsibility for speed setting.

Road Transport Forum chief executive Nick Leggett said the change was inadequate and should not go ahead.

“With 93% of freight in New Zealand moved by trucks, and considering the significant contribution that makes to the economy, we must have a say on what happens on the roads, which are the workplace for those we represent,” he said.

“We can’t be locked out of that because the government doesn’t like what we say.

“We have submitted on this rule change that suggests an independent speed management committee take on responsibility for speed setting, with no opportunity for direct submissions, or specific freight industry consultation,” Legget said.

“We think that is inadequate and that the current consultation process should remain.

“We believe our industry has valuable input into discussions about roads in New Zealand and we do not want to be removed from those discussions. That doesn’t feel very democratic.”

The RTF has been vocal about the Government’s speed-setting agenda.

“Speed setting is something of a coarse approach to safety management and is viewed as the low-cost option when measured against network improvements, or safety improvement investments,” Legget said.

“While the RTF recognises the objectives of having a formal speed setting policy framework, a worrying trend that appears to be gathering momentum is the need to reduce speeds rather than carry out network and route upgrades, especially when New Zealand roads are not without significant safety design deficits and functionality challenges,” he said.

Legget said the Government’s “reluctance” to invest in long-term roading infrastructure to improve and future-proof the network for vehicles is a concern.

“The current lack of investment in roads for vehicles, and the subsequent lowering of speed limits to make roads ‘safe’, is a policy of death by a thousand cuts,” he said.

“It will result in higher costs, due to increased trip times, which will eventually impact all consumer goods.”