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SWDC lends weight to speed review petition

Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency has proposed lowering the 100kmh speed limit to 80kmh in Wairarapa on State Highway 2. PHOTO/FILE

South Wairarapa District Council has backed a petition asking Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency [NZTA] to rescind its proposal to permanently lower state highway speed limits to 80kmh.

The petition centres around the proposed speed reduction on the Napier-Taupo highway, but Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said her concerns were likely mirrored by other affected councils in New Zealand.

In Wairarapa, NZTA has proposed a speed limit drop from 100kmh to 80kmh in a bid to reduce fatalities and serious injuries.

A public consultation last year drew more than 1000 pieces of feedback.

NZTA is yet to announce its decision on Wairarapa’s speed review, but any announcement would be made well in advance of any changes.

“Even when speed isn’t the direct cause of a crash, it is always a factor in the severity and can be the difference between a person being killed, seriously injured, or walking away from a crash,” NZTA said at the time of the consultation.

“Safer speeds can save lives.”

At the time of NZTA’s speed review consultation, South Wairarapa District Council did not make a submission.

But at last week’s full council meeting, South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen said NZTA’s blanket speed reduction “doesn’t relate back to statistics on deaths and accidents”.

He was also concerned about the overall economic impact it would have on the district.

On SH2, there has been one fatal crash in the South Wairarapa district in the past 10 years.

This was caused by a fatigued truck driver.

In the same time period, there have been three serious crashes in 100kmh areas of SH2 in the South Wairarapa district, excluding the Remutaka Hill road.

At least one of these crashes was due to a driver experiencing a medical event.

Another involved a single vehicle crashing into a fence.

The petition asks NZTA to reduce speeds at known hotspots instead of a blanket reduction.

South Wairarapa councillors unanimously supported signing the petition.

NZTA said any proposal to drop speed limits was driven by “the need to improve safety and reduce harm for everyone on our roads”.

“It will help ensure that in coming years we do not have thousands of people dealing with a road tragedy, which could have been prevented or the harm minimised had people been driving at a slower speed.”

— NZLDR

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