by Greta Yeoman
Motorists need to take the state of roads and their configuration into account instead of taking the speed limit as gospel, a road safety spokesman says.
South Canterbury road safety co-ordinator Daniel Naude’s comments come after 14 people died on New Zealand roads in just five days last week.
His comments follow similar statements from national road policing manager Superintendent Steve Greally to NZ Newswire last week.
Supt Greally said speed limits needed to be reviewed to reflect the state of roads.
“We can put 110kmh on roads built for it, like expressways, but the reverse is equally true. If we increase speed on those, we need to decrease speed on those not engineered for high speeds,” he said.
There were 26 road deaths in the Timaru and Mackenzie areas between 2012 and 2016, along with two in Timaru and five in the Mackenzie area this year.
“Always be focusing on your driving – you can’t afford not to.” – Road safety co-ordinator Daniel Naude
The Canterbury region has recorded 42 fatal crashes so far this year, compared with 26 for all of 2016.
The country’s annual road toll was already at 299 by Monday, compared with 255 for all of 2016.
Mr Naude said factors contributing to the South Canterbury crashes included speed, alcohol, failing to keep left and poor driving.
Thirty-three percent of all crashes in the area had been caused by poor driving, such as motorists driving too fast.
“[They may not be] really speeding, but just going too fast into the bend.”
Mr Naude agreed with Supt Greally that speed limits should reflect the state of roads.
While a speed limit of 100kmh, or even 110kmh under proposed changes, was suitable for straight, wide stretches of highway, drivers needed to be aware of the road layout of windier roads as they did not leave much space for drivers to safely correct themselves or slow down to safely take a corner.
However, he was unsure whether the speed limit would be lowered from 100kmh to 80kmh in such places.
“I don’t think there’s an appetite from road users and politicians to change that.”
He hoped the country would get to a stage where there were enough resources to properly upgrade roads, but until then it was up to drivers to judge the driving conditions on highways and town streets.
“Always be focusing on your driving – you can’t afford not to.”