Epidemic of reduced speed limits in 2016

Epidemic of reduced speed limits in 2016 fuel economy

One of the worrying trends in 2016 was the epidemic of reduced speed zones around the country, many on great motorcycle roads.

The two high-profile examples were the reduction of the open speed limit on a Northern Territory highway to 130km/h and the planned reduction of speed limits in several places on the Oxley Highway. (The Roads and Maritime Services is reviewing the speed reductions and expected to announce their decision any day. We remain hopeful but realistic.)

Oxley Highway speed limit drops epidemic
Oxley Highway speed reductions (Photo courtesy of Gary King)

But there have been many other great motorcycling roads where the reduced speed limits epidemic has struck.

Over the past few years we have seen speed reductions on Mt Glorious Rd, The Great Ocean Rd, The Putty Rd, Bells Line Of Road and The Great Northern Rd.

I have just spent a week on the Sunshine Coast and noticed so many of my favourite riding roads now have 60km/h speed limits where they used to have 80 and 100km/h signs.

It’s an epidemic from the David Low Way on the coastline right back to the Blackall Ranges and the hinterland beyond.

And it’s an epidemic that ironically seems to be gathering speed!

Reasons for the slow-down epidemic

  • Authorities can appear to be protecting their citizens from themselves;
  • NIMBY residents buy a nice property in a semi-rural area on a known motorcycle road, then complain that motorcyclists are using it and demand the council/government reduce the speed limit (a bit like people who buy near an airport then complain about aircraft noise);

    Epidemic of reduced speed limits in 2016
    Semi-rural 60 zone
  • Police and governments can gouge higher fines and demerit points for the same speeds (eg if you are caught doing 90km/h in a 60km/h zone you will cop a much higher fine than if it were an 80km/h zone);
  • It’s easier and cheaper than fixing the roads; and
  • It’s easier and cheaper than educating motorists how to drive/ride.

None of these reasons is supported by any empirical evidence.

In fact, the Northern Territory decision was totally political and contrary to evidence.

road safety epidemic
Northern Territory 130km/h sign

The NT used to have open speed limits on its highways, but in 2006, the then Labor Government imposed a 130km/h limit.

Instead of accidents reducing, they increased. In fact, 307 died in the NT over the next six years, 15 more than in the previous six years.

Last year, the conservative NT government decided to permanently allow motorists to choose their own speed on a 336km section of the Stuart Highway after a successful 18-month evidence-based trial.

Now, despite a zero fatality rate on the highway sections with open speed limits, the Northern Territory has once again returned to 130km/h speed restrictions after the Labor Party returned to power in August 2016.

It’s political!

15 Comments

  1. As the article states, improving roads and driver skills is too difficult.
    Over the last 30 years cars have improved in leaps and bounds, roads, debatable, as better and safer too, but driver skills have dropped dramatically over that time.
    Holding a licence , not just in driving, is a PRIVILEGE, never a right. Licenses, in anything need to be earned, and far more importantly maintained through regular retraining.

  2. Nothing beats a good statistic. Apparently, if there is no statistics, in this case calculated by deaths, then there is no statistic. We all know people need jobs. Imagine the incline in unemployment statistics if those crunching statistics were suddenly not employed due to there being no statistics. People may still be alive. In this case the statistics appear unsafe to me. Apparently 97% are totally made up anyway. (I could have just made that up) !

  3. Vicroads are just as bad when it comes to lowering country road speed limits…Many roads that were once 100kph roads around where I live have now been reduced to 80kph, all (supposedly) with the aim of reducing accidents.
    In my opinion all it will do is encourage drivers to play with their mobiles &/or radios etc instead of concentrating on the road properly as you tend to do when travelling at a higher speed.
    When accidents increase (as I’m sure they will) what will they then blame? Of course it will be the ol’ speed kills” chestnut yet again which will probably result in speed limits being lowered yet again.
    Don’t these morons get that if you keep treating people like idiots for long enough you’ll actually end up with idiots?
    It would make too much sense for these clowns to actually think, hmmm, perhaps drivers need to learn some real driving skills…Much easier, (even if it is less effective), to con people into believing ever reducing speed limits is the answer….

    1. It is also about wasting your time and the control the state can exert over you. It is about selling more petrol as at 80 you are running in a lower gear, which uses more petrol. Hence, more tax money from more petrol sales. At higher speed limits, fewer people use mobiles and radios. The use of these devices at lower speeds leads to more fines, which leads to more money for the goons that inhabit the system, the system that is no longer responding to the electorate.

  4. open speed limit = no deaths.
    therefore speed limit reduced to 130 km/hr (why?)

    &, when we have a death with lower speed limit it’ll prove that . . . . .

  5. Australia is a fabulous country…run by second-rate wankers. The NSW RMS are particularly blinkered and inept. Whatever the problem, the answer is “reduce the speed limit”. I fully expect speed limits to approach 0 kph by the time I retire.

  6. The one thing I hate is roads with speed limits which change electronically due to “road conditions”. I drive from NSW to Adelaide several times a year and one I got caught doing 85kph in a 80 zone on what is normally a 100kph road. Why? Because authorities had changed the speed limit electronically and I didn’t notice the change as I was driving with the traffic flow. After I received the infringement notice in the mail several weeks later I worked out what had happened and now keep an eye out for these sneaky tactics.

    1. It’s not about road conditions, treasury has a direct link to all variable speed zones and adjusts them in real time according to budget shortfall estimates 😉

        1. They don’t make a dime unless dickheads speed, including this one :/ Just paid my fine the other day and i’ll admit it hit me where it hurts and i’m cautious of breaking the speed limit now, which DOES make me a safer rider as i have more reaction time and less braking distance.

          Time people stop blaming others and started riding safer, that’s what will make the statistics drop, then the government would not have a leg to stand on and open up speeds again!

          1. Cletus is the reason the system is so crooked. What a fool to think that paying a fine makes you behave. You behave, not according to you, but according to the state. Here in Melton, I see the police use Coburns Road as a race track. Doing 80 in a 60 with no lights or sirens on.

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