Road safety focus of proposed speed limit changes for district

Published on 20 February 2024

A speed limit sign with speed limit review wording

Public consultation is open on a Whanganui District Council review of speed limits aimed at making our roads safer for everyone. The council’s transportation manager, Damien Wood, says road safety is at the heart of the proposed speed limit changes.

“Good speed management is fundamental to road safety, which is recognised internationally as the most effective way to reduce road deaths and serious injuries. At the same time as we develop new speed limits, the council will also deliver road safety improvements and speed-lowering programmes,” Damien Wood says.

Last week the council’s Strategy and Policy Committee adopted a Statement of Proposal so a review of the Traffic and Speed Limits Bylaw 2017 can begin. This follows a council decision in November last year to go ahead with speed limit consultation, focused primarily around Whanganui schools.

At that time Waka Kotahi NZTA required all road-controlling authorities to have achieved speed reductions in about 40 percent of all district schools before the end of June this year.

Central government is now in the process of reviewing the previous Land Transport Rule and the June deadline no longer applies.

The council has however decided to continue as planned under the bylaw and concurrently make changes to its draft Speed Management Plan to ensure processes are in place to manage speed limits whatever the outcome of the government review. In most cases the proposed changes mean speed limits near schools would be reduced from 50km/h to 30km/h.

“We have data that a collision between a pedestrian and car is usually survivable at 30km/h as opposed to a higher speed. Lowering speed limits near schools will create a safer environment for all road users including students, parents, school staff and visitors,” Damien Wood says.

“With more people travelling at speeds that are safe and appropriate for the road environment, we will see an inclusive, safer and more people-friendly city where we can all move around more freely, no matter how we choose to travel.”

As part of the bylaw review, it is also proposed to review unofficial and inappropriate speed limits in the district. Unofficial speed limits are those where an informal speed limit is in place but is not legally enforceable, for instance speed limits posted within the grounds of retirement villages, motor camps and sporting complexes.

Inappropriate speed limits are where the current posted speed limit is inappropriate and does not suit the existing road conditions or the local road environment.

“This consultation is an opportunity for the community to let us know if we’ve got it right when it comes to the district’s speed management,” Damien Wood says.

The council will consider community feedback alongside input from partners, interested groups and organisations. Once any changes are approved, speed management activities and other safety improvements will be delivered over the next three years through to the end of 2027.

Consultation is open until midnight on Wednesday, 20 March 2024

For more information, visit our Have Your Say page