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Speed cut not the answer


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A courier driver who travels 420km through Wairarapa every day says lowering speeds isn’t the answer to making Kiwi roads safer.

“Whatever the speed limit is, it’s not going to reduce the carnage on our roads,” said Graeme Burnard, a Masterton-based medical courier.

The New Zealand Transport Agency is re-evaluating speed limits throughout the country in a bid to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on the national roading network.

In its new Speed Management Guide, NZTA indicates that 80km/h would be a “safe and appropriate speed” for State Highway 2 between Masterton and Featherston.

Lowering speed limits through towns is also being looked at, but NZTA said no changes would take place without intensive public consultation.

Mr Burnard, who clocks up 10,000km on his odometer every five weeks, said most crashes were down to “driver stupidity” and not speed.

“There’s some inconsiderate drivers and they’re not going to change no matter what the speed,” he said.

An 80km/h speed limit from one end of Wairarapa to the other was not warranted, given the number of cattle and logging trucks that used the route.

Maintaining 100km/h for most of the stretch was virtually impossible, he said, and lowering the limit would only increase the “stop, go, stop, go” rhythm already prevalent on the highway.

Ian Garrity, of Greytown transport company Garrity Brothers, agreed that most drivers were already forced to travel sections of SH2 at 80km/h or below, especially between Carterton and Masterton.

Mr Garrity has spent 44 years in the trucking business in Wairarapa, and traffic in the region had significantly increased in that time.

While a lower speed limit might “frustrate” some drivers, he was not opposed to it if it meant safer roads.

“I’m sort of for it and sort of against it, you know?

“I like to get between A and B as quickly as possible, but if it’s a safety thing then it probably won’t be a bad thing, really.”

Mr Garrity said the straight stretch through Tauherenikau was relatively safe and should remain at 100km/h.

Paul Foster, of Lansdowne Nursery, uses SH2 for deliveries four days a week.

He was not a fan of a lower speed limit through Wairarapa.

“I would hate to see it go down to 80km/h – the road is safe, as long as people drive safely.”

Many of the deaths on Wairarapa roads were down to “clowns” being behind the wheel.

“It’s just unfortunate in our society that if a clown makes a mistake, then the rest of us are penalised.”

But Mr Foster said better road engineering for the growing region was a must.

He supported a lower speed limit into northern Featherston, adding that median road barriers were a good tool in avoiding deaths.

NZTA said the new speed management guide considered all road users and would make road speeds throughout the country more consistent.

The agency said it was too early to say which specific sites may have speed limit changes proposed.


  1. I am utterly opposed to this proposal. It will accomplish nothing useful, and will increase driver frustration immeasurably. The roads concerned are perfectly safe, provided drivers exercise common sense. I am tired of everybody being penalised because a few people fail to come up to minimum standards of skill.

    Lowering speed limits seems to be the NZTA’s primary strategy for everything.

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