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Are there too many changes in speed zones?

Epidemic of reduced speed limits in 2016
Semi-rural 60 zone

Despite a 2014 Austroads report finding there are too many speed zones and the frequency of zone changes is too high, chances of authorities making any changes as a result of the report are minimal, an Austroads official admits.

The 116-page “Model National Guidelines for Setting Speed Limits at High-Rick Locations” report is not a guide says Austroads Safety Program Manager David Bobbermen.

“Austroads Research Reports (such as the one you have referenced) are not as influential on road authority practice as that of the Austroads Guides,” David says.

“While some policy development emanates from research reports, road managers are more likely to change practice if that change is recommended by Austroads Guides or Australian/New Zealand Standards.

“Austroads is currently undertaking a more detailed research project:  SAG6043 Speed Management: A Compendium of  Effective Countermeasures which will outline procedures which can be used by road managers. This provides more detailed advice following previous research and drawing upon emerging practice from leading road authorities in this field.

“The aim is to move such advice to a Guide when trialled successfully.”

Minimum distance for speed zones

Apart from recommending a reduction in the number and frequency of speed zone changes, the 2014 report also suggested setting a minimum distance for a speed zone.

Fewer speed zones means fewer speed signs which means a reduction in dangerous roadside furniture that causes injury and death to riders.

However, the report also recommends that slower speeds would reduce injury and death risk. It says nothing about increasing speeds to reduce fatigue.

Speed zones

Wed suspect that reduced speed limits are more likely to be adopted in the upcoming National Road Safety Action Plan rather than reduced speed zone changes.

“While this (action plan) has not been released as yet, motorcycle rider safety was one of the considerations in the development of this key strategy for Australia,” David ominously says.

Motorcycle safety

Australian Motorcycle Council spokesman Guy Stanford says the AMC has made a submission to Austroads which, among other things, suggested a reduction in the number and frequency of speed zones.

Guy Stanford - Mobile phone while riding - darrk visor helmets filtering laws autonomous consensus hipsters kill defect
Guy Stanford

“There is one section of the northern NSW coast highway where the highway patrol hangs around just where there are many speed zones,” he says. “What they end up with is self-serving statistics about speeding.”

We all know of similar places where the speed limit varies too frequently. We also know how the police like to patrol such locations where motorists are easily confused.

Too many speed zones is one of the frequent complaints of motorists in the annual RACQ report on what peeves motorists. It is especially concerning for motorcycle riders who don’t have a speedo in front of their faces for constant reference or who could end up with aggro drivers sitting close on their tail.

  • Do you know of a location with too many speed signs?
  1. There are two mindsets when it comes to speed limits
    One is the safety Nazis that want to have a guy with a red flag proceeding all vehicles
    There other is the revenue junkies who don’t care about safety they just want excuses to fine people.
    Both of these mindsets are leading to higher death and injury rates.
    There is a road that used to be sixty kph and is now fifty cops often hang out on it to make up there quotas. The road is actually save enough to have a seventy kph limit so drifting over the fifty kph is very easy to do so I have to just about have to glue my eyes to the speedo to keep from becoming a random road tax contributor.
    So what is safer? Someone doing seventy but watching where they are going or someone doing fifty but very likely to not see that imanginery kid running out .
    When I ride I look everywhere for that thing that’s going to get me, the footpath driveways yards even the trees for falling branches but now thanks to the safety Nazis and revenue junkies I spend more time checking my speed than my environment.

    A side note on school zones , many are deadly due to being on the wrong roads. Instead of making it safer for the children they actually greatly increase the risk of an accident that will most likely be fatal. Reducing the speed limit from above seventy kph down to forty is a recipe for disaster.
    It also has the wrong effect on children. Roads are dangerous places and most children realise this and respect that danger but when you make a road “safer” by reducing speed you reduce the respect that kids give it so instead of being careful and not running out to get their ball or pushing and shoving each other near the road they forget it’s even there.

    1. Young children are unpredictable and often concentrating on whatever they are doing at the time, nor thinking about what is going on around them; it’s even worse now that they all have bloody mobile telephones. Your assertion that lower speed limits are a recipe for disaster doesn’t make any sense at all. Higher speeds around school zones are a bad idea. A better idea would be to try to deter all the four-wheel driving mums from driving unpredictably in school zones and get them to put their children on the bus, which is far safer for them than travelling with most the vast majority of parents anyway.

      1. You misunderstood my reasoning. Not all school zones are a bad idea only those that are reducing highway traffic to a crawl often even when there are barriers and pedestrian bridges to keep the kids safe.
        Yes there are kids who are walking Darwin Award contenders who would run out in front of a truck to chase a butterfly,, But ! Would they do that if in the back of their mind they knew the road was dangerous?
        When I was of an age to walk to school on my own we had fireworks and not the pathetic things that barely sparkle I mean things that could blow your hand off! My friends and I would hunt for these everywhere as the adults all said they were too dangerous for us kids to play with, when we got some we often combined them to get a much bigger bang. None of my friends or anyone we knew was ever injured playing with them because we respected them and took all the safety precautions we could think of when blowing shit up. Then because a few nits burnt them selves and one or two lost fingers because the adults had dropped the ball in teaching common sense the good fireworks got banned and those left were made “safer” then the number of serious injuries and burns skyrocketed because the people were so unimpressed by them they lost respect for them and started braking them open and pouring the explosive into bits of copper pipe and the like so now fireworks are banned.
        The problem with a dangerous thing is it can’t be made safe and still serve its purpose .
        The only thing you can do is ensure that the children understand and respect that dangerous thing otherwise you actually make it more dangerous!
        School zones on highways and similar high speed roads are a really bad idea and they essentially pack extra explosives into a tight space and all it takes is one guy on cruise control not seeing the school zone signs because he’s half asleep from crawling along at 100 kph on a wide empty road to arrive just as that kid who thinks he can run out and get his ball because the traffic is only meant to be doing forty!
        Not to mention the speedo gazer who doesn’t see the kid because he’s afraid of a fine.

  2. Australia is one of the worst and most intrusive nanny states in the world: a country where everything is banned and you need permission to do everything else.
    Al is right, it is a mindset: a mindset about control and revenue.

  3. I have worked near a school for many years and found that kids cross road without checking and this was high school kids And when I nearly come close of hiting one I get abuse fowl language at me so pushing the speed is not all and end all

  4. Great post Hal.
    Australia is too concerned over safety, and making everything easy. But the revenue raisers use and promote the concerns in order to raise more money.
    We brought up two kids and added a third for a spare, but aside from stern warnings about some dangers, we let them discover safety themselves.
    There are just far too many mothers.

  5. Try Prospect Road in Adelaide. If you turn onto Prospect Road[which is a main suburban road] from a main intersection you are coming off a 60kph onto a 50kph after a some 600 metres as you head towards the city it changes to 40kph for around 400 metres then reverts to 50 kph. What happens next is the road user speeds up which is normal and at a further 600 metres there is a speed camera. Sure there is a sign just before the camera stating Safety Camera ahead. This is a very lucrative camera the unsuspecting road user believes they are back on a 60 kph zone when in fact its still 50 kph. Revenue raising at it’s worst.

  6. Riding a motorcycle requires intense concentration. The problem I have is that when riding in an unfamiliar city, watching the traffic takes almost all my concentration. There is nothing left to read roadside signs. If the car or truck immediately in front of me is a serious threat, my brain is simply not going to read a sign that may be right there, – I just won’t see it.
    Similarly on some busy mountain highways, I simply don’t see the signs, so have to rely on the speed of the traffic to tell me. Throw in the worry of speed cameras, and the ever present threat of licence loss adds to the stress. What should be an enjoyable sensible ride, becomes a stressful nightmare.

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