Austroads says safer speeds are lower speeds

Austroads Safer speeds study

Austroads has published a major study into speeding which presumes that the public wants “safer speeds” that are lower speeds.

The whole premise for the 161-page report seems to be that lower vehicle speeds means less risk.

It recommends a wide range of campaign strategies including reducing speed limits, more signs showing your current speed, education campaigns and even changing the language of road safety messages such as referring to accidents as crashes.

This change in terminology also reflects an experiment in Victoria to temporarily change the name of the town Speed to Speedkills.

“Changing community perceptions about speeding is an important priority,” the study says.

It claims the community wants safer speeds, but some parts of the community, such as motorcycle riders are “not yet” convinced.

That’s about the only specific reference to motorcyclists except to say that local jurisdictions may need to focus on riders.

But what they are really saying is that riders need to be slowed and they need to be convinced to slow down.

The Austroads study started with reviews of other studies, then engaged “key stakeholders” about intervention options, then provided this final assessment and list of recommendations to slow vehicle speeds.

It’s a lengthy study, but here are some excerpts that you may find interesting:

Create demand for safer speeds

1. To enhance community understanding of risk associated with speeding.

2. To enhance community understanding that increased speeds result in increased crash severity, based on uncontested laws of physics.

3. To increase awareness of purpose and benefits of speed enforcement.

Increase demand for safer speeds

4. To challenge the prevailing descriptive norm that ‘everyone speeds’.

5. To challenge the injunctive/moral norm that speeding is acceptable and approved of by others (i.e., that speeding is no big deal).

6. To challenge the perception that speeding saves a large amount of time, and/or that it is possible to make up a large amount of lost time by speeding.

Sustain demand for safer speeds

7. To challenge the perception that complying with speed limits is hard/impossible and to promote individual responsibility for and ability to choose and control one’s speed.

8. To continue to build a positive culture surrounding road safety more broadly, and speeding more specifically.

9. To challenge language associated with speeding in order to alter public perception of its importance.

There is no mention about how lower speed limits and increased enforcement creates unsafe motorists who are more intent on watching their speedos than watching the traffic around them.


  1. If these people want us to obey the law, then we should. I think we should start by getting smashed off our faces and killing politicians and random police officers. The bicycle helmet legislation requires us to kill ourselves by overheating our brains, and homicidal insanity is a well-known side-effect of dying in this manner. The police want us to kill them like this, or they wouldn’t enforce the helmet laws.

    We should no longer look at the road when driving, but stare constantly at our speedos. There is plenty of time to look up when we hit things.

    As large numbers of people may have become insomniacs as a result of being annoyed, fined, or persecuted too much, and driving a car when tired is a no-no, those people should all have to stop working and go on the dole. Eventually they will need to work for the dole, and if they become involved in any charity which tries to popularise bicycle riding, they may find themselves in the position of encouraging the general public to rape and murder those police officers who have not been killed in paragraph 1. Obviously the politicians and police are completely happy about this, or they wouldn’t enact and enforce these laws.

    Concerning car control, we old farts used to take our cars to quiet places with plenty of stuff-up space and teach ourselves to control slides of all types. This became hooning, punishable with enormous fines. Is there a younger generation who has no idea what to do when they hit a slippery bit and their cat goes sideways? Can they perform emergency braking in a straight line, or when turning around some hazard? Driving sideways may sound a bit wonky, but how many of you have been off-road, with the vehicle sideways in mud at walking pace? Even at that speed, trees are better avoided.

    To conclude, common sense would be a nice thing to see here. But we get legislators, bureaucrats and police who are stupid or uncaring or very very keen to get our money. We get some road users who behave when driving just as they behave on their sofas at home. How can these people possibly forget that they are driving a bit piece of metal, yet they do. Hopefully they’ll all get killed without taking any of us with them.

    As the speed limits get lower and lower, push-bike riders will start to be affected, inconvenienced, persecuted and fined as well. My fastest old roady does not have a speedo. Will that be an excuse? I am already old, fat and lazy – will I have to take up heroin to keep my speed below 30 kmh?

    P B

  2. I see that clown Cameron from Monash features prominently in the references … it will always be easier to limit people to the lowest common denominator, facilitating much revenue raising, than to address the real issues.

  3. Distraction of drivers via their use of mobile phones, children, loud music, street advertising etc. The standard of driving is very poor. watch where they break and how they corner!! very sad indeed. People are taught how to get a licence, not how to control a vehicle or about vehicle dynamics..

    Drivers are relying more on driving aids than actually driving and looking. How many drivers do you see performing a head check?

    I have driven in Germany at 200k/ph from Berlin to Munich in complete safety. Not tired or drowsy. On major roads say from Sydney to Melbourne the speed limit could be increased from 110 to 120 for a trial period and if no major disasters the limit should be raised to 130.

    However in Germany the city speed limit is 30 and if you go over it, watch out? It’s all about risk management and proper driver training. Again in Germany your friends or relative are not aloud to teach you to drive. It is taught by very good instructors.

    Having said that, I know that not much will change and we shall be having this discussion in a couple of years yet once again.

  4. It seems to me that Austroads needed to release *something* to justify its existence and perhaps its funding, and what better way to do that than to appease rule-making and revenue-raising overlords.

  5. We should start a petition at asking that Austroads be disbanded and all current members be banned from participating in any new body as they have clearly no interest in actually doing anything about road safety that has any chance of doing anything other than justify speeding fines. If they wanted to be taken seriously and actually achieve something positive they should have looked at the stacks of evidence that states that increasing speeds can make some roads safer. And all school zones should be reviewed as some actually make it more dangerous, dropping to forty ks from eighty or a hundred at certain times is really stupid and is a major tragedy waiting to happen. All it would take is one sleepy driver with a fast clock.
    I’d start the petition but who would it go to and it might be better started by a famous name.

  6. I laughed with incredulity when I read “6. To challenge the perception that speeding saves a large amount of time, and/or that it is possible to make up a large amount of lost time by speeding.”. To “challenge” it? Really? I’d love them to explain that to a physicist! This report was not written by smart people, this report was written by people who had already come to their conclusion before they’d researched it and simply towed the line while sacrificing common sense. I heard recently that a guy knocked a wing mirror off a car while lane filtering. His excuse? “I was checking to make sure I wasn’t going over 30kph”. How ironic.

  7. Enhancing community understanding of risk is a two way street. Where there is little or no risk in comparison to the so called high risk areas, speed limits need to be increased. With all the increased technology, safety features, signage etc., the speed limits in such areas of low risk are still the same as they were fifty years ago.

  8. These guys are real geniuses! Of course reducing all speed limits would be safer. If all speed limits were dropped to 10kph tomorrow and people followed them, the road toll would be zero. That way two drivers both texting while driving could have a head on collision and survive. But there are obviously other considerations than just speed.

    1. One presumes that the 10kph speed limit will also apply to all government and first responder vehicles. Then, to save 150 lives per year, thousands more would die of increased heart attacks and other such medical emergencies because of the slow speed to get to the emergency road. Not to mention slow response time at murder scenes, etc. This would then lead to an increase in helicopter flights by time starved politicians, like Bronwyn Bishop… Food would take much longer to get to the store, leading to increased food spoilage…..

      All this concentration on speed when our vehicles, roads, and medical procedures are better than ever is nothing more than to waste our time, and exert totalitarian control over our lives. Note the increase over the last 3 years of road deaths in all states due to lower speeds, and increased use of scameras that target low level “offenders” who exhibit normal behaviour.

  9. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating, we have system of speed limits that has no foundation in science.

    It says a 300 kg motorcycle (including rider) going say 100 km/hr is exactly the same as a 100 tonne B-double doing that speed. My year 11 physics tells that is simply not the case. Stopping distances, damage from impact, ability to maneuver are very different for both vehicles. Yet we treat them exactly the same under the law.

    How can you expect people to take any message about safe speed seriously when the physical differences of the various vehicles using our roads are completely ignored.

    In addition you just need to spend a little time on a site like Dash Cams Australia to see the number of accidents caused by factors that poorly targeted by the current road safety mechanisms eg fail to give way, poor over taking skills.

    I would go as far to say we have road safety culture of reducing the harm sustained in accidents, rather reducing accidents themselves. If this was to be translated to the work place it see a policy where a fall of 1 metre is okay but not one of 1.1, it runs completely the opposite of accepted risk management policies.

  10. No doubt that speedo gazing is a real issue; however there is no getting away from the fact that high speed crashes kill and maim more than lower speed crashes. I would also venture that speedo gazing at higher speeds results in more crashes than speedo gazing at lower speeds.

    1. You can run over a pedestrian at one kilometre per hour and still kill them !
      Running into a tree because you fell asleep at the wheel is more likely at lower speed and just as deadly at sixty ks as it is at one hundred and sixty.
      The people who thought this up are clearly a danger to themselves and others and should be held in a mental hospital for their own good.

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