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No rush to hit reverse on speed limits

Despite the National Party campaigning specifically about reversing the blanket speed reductions on State Highway 2 from Featherston to Masterton, the Minister of Transport announced yesterday that this may not be implemented until the end of 2025.

When National leader Christopher Luxon visited Wairarapa in September during last year’s election campaign, he promised to restore the 100kmh speed limit on SH2 if elected.

“When you look at the very straight stretch of SH2, which has gone from 100kmh down to 80kmh, it just makes no sense,” Luxon said at the time.

Transport Minister Simeon Brown’s announcement yesterday said that a new Land Transport Rule will be signed by the end of 2024 but that blanket reductions would not be required to be reversed until the end of 2025.

“The new rule will ensure that when speed limits are set, economic impacts – including travel times – and the views of road users and local communities are taken into account, alongside safety,” Brown said.

Brown referred to the blanket speed limit reductions as “’nanny state’ regulations aimed at slowing Kiwis down”. The transport minister said he is working with the Minister for Regulation David Seymour to ensure the new rule will focus on “practical, targeted safety measures”.

“Setting lower speed limits without taking into account how it would affect travel times and economic activity was irrational,” Seymour said.

“The coalition government is committed to making principled and rational policy decisions, including doing cost-benefit analysis where appropriate.”

“The new rule will lead to blanket speed limit reductions being reversed by the end
of next year, except where it
is unsafe,” Brown said,
although he is yet to provide clarification on how roads will be assessed to determine whether they’re ‘safe’.

The new rule will mean that blanket reductions implemented on both council owned roads and NZTA managed state highways will need to be reversed.

The new Land Transport Rule, which is still being developed, is expected to go out for public consultation by mid-2024.

Part of the National-ACT coalition agreement means that the new rule will also require variable speed limits near schools during the pick-up and drop-off times.

Brown called the government’s approach to speed limits “a pragmatic way to get Kiwis moving faster while ensuring that safety interventions are targeted and fit for purpose”.

“It makes no sense to have roads that can safely accommodate higher speed limits, only to require motorists to drive more slowly,” Brown said.

“Later this year, we will also publish new objectives for road safety.”

These will “focus on safer roads, safer drivers, and safer vehicles.

“This will target the highest contributing factors in fatal road crashes, particularly alcohol and drugs.”

The Times-Age has approached Brown’s office for comment on SH2 from Featherston to Masterton and whether it would be considered ‘safe enough’ to be returned to 100kmh.

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