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Are roadworks speeds set too low?

Roadworks speeds limit - potholes Halloween Rider successfully sues over roadworks crash Resurfacing Roadworks

While roadworks speeds in some jurisdictions can be as low 40km/h (25mph), the UK may be heading toward a standard 60mph (about 100km/h) on highway roadworks.

Speed limits through roadworks are reduced for the safety of road workers.

However, some riders question the low speeds when work is not happening and when workers are behind steal barricades or even up a side road.

Riders also claim their lives can be jeopardised by the sudden and dramatic drop in speed, especially when they are being tailgated by a large truck!

The problem stems from roadworks speeds being positioned too far ahead of the actual work and limits sometimes set too low, according to the RACQ.

Roadworks speeds

In most states of Australia, the roadworks speed limit is an enforceable 40km/h. Highway speed limits can vary right down to 40km/h, depending on the type of works.

In New Zealand, the lowest roadworks speed is 30km/h. In the USA roadworks speed limits are only advisory.

In the UK, highway roadworks speed limits are much higher from 40-60mph (64-100km/h).

To move toward a standardised speed limit for roadworks on UK highways, Highways England began a trial of 55 and 60mph speed limits in some roadworks.

They found “safety wasn’t compromised and customers preferred driving at 60mph”.

They have now asked roadworks companies to reconsider their speed limits.millions roadworks rain

Uniform speeds

Australian riders are also calling for more sensible and uniform roadworks speeds.

Russell Saunders of the Queensland-based Motorcycle Advocacy Group  says “inappropriate speed limits” are a concern.

“Forty kilometres an hour on multilane roads is not sensible and the maintaining of those speeds when no work is being undertaken is just plain stupid,” he says.

“Those limits should be lifted when no road workers are in attendance, such as on weekends.

“I have ridden in many other countries and have formed the opinion that we are the worst for excessive over compensation towards ‘safety’.”

The Motorcycle Riders Association of Victoria also claims speed limits are often set with “blanket rules based on opinion rather than science”.

  1. Couldn’t agree more. When workers are behind a massive concrete barricade – there is no risk to them. I’d also like to see the slow down signage remove when there are no workers. So many work sites seem to set up then disappear for weeks on end without anyone working. Seems like an unnecessary slowing on already congested roads!

    1. Several tonnes of metal impacting a concrete barrier at 40km/h is going to move it. Plus there’s the issue of flying debris being thrown from an impact at high speed. Flying debris from a main road accident is also the issue when working on a side street. These are all dangers for roadworkers even behind a concrete barrier. I am a road worker who’s been on the wrong side of the equation.

  2. Riding behind a large truck, cant see anything forward, traffic following behind you.
    Truck brakes aggressively to 40Km, you know what happens next.
    Same senario for 40Km going past police etc on the side of the road.

  3. Yes, especially when the roadworks are not being performed e.g. on a weekend or up a bloody side road!
    I encountered 3 lanes to one last Wednesday with the lanes closed signs indicating the incorrect side of the road was open!

  4. Killing with cotton wool.
    Road workers have been killed by morons but more motorists have been killed by morons as a result of poorly considered speed reductions and poorly designed controls.
    The road workers who are most often killed are the traffic controllers who stand out in front of traffic with nothing but a stop or slow sign and often they are killed because they forget that drivers can be distracted morons and step out into the path of a driver who if they are actually looking may not recognise that a person is now trying to futilely wave a stop sign at them.

    1. Do you have any evidence to back this up, or is it (as it says on the final line in the article) “…based on opinion rather than science”. If there are figures behind your comment, please could you post a link.

  5. Have to agree signage should be removed if road is a safe and no workers on site.
    I’m in two minds about the speed limit being increased, it would be nice under some circumstances but I would prefer to err on the side of caution, as it’s only a minor inconvenience in the great scheme of things.

  6. I have no problem doing 40kph if actual roadworks are happening. Unfortunately the vast majority of them are either completely unmanned or have up to a kilometre of 40kph before you actually reach the roadworks.

  7. 40km/h is fine, but the slowdown needs to be staggered in increments instead of going straight from 110km/h to 40km/h.

  8. Totally agree with Russell Saunders especially on weekends when no work is being carried out. Seems the Stop-Go people are too lazy to take the signs down then replace them when the work resumes

  9. I think you’re all a bunch of childish whingers. ):-[

    And somewhat surprised at you, David, for raising the issue with such a one-sided slant.

    So just effing grow up, the lot of you!!!

    These regulations are there because too many roadworks workers were NOT COMING HOME TO THEIR FAMILIES after leaving for work in the morning. OK? Got that?

    Why? ‘Cos some impatient, up-his/her-arse prick (car or bike) thought he/she was above those expendable “workers”, and ran over one of them ‘cos he/she was in a hurry!

    Go on – how about one of ‘you’ take the place of the copper who has to explain all this to a new widow?


  10. I do agree with Digs.
    I don’t really have an issue with 40Km/h when the workers are onsite.
    Recently there was 2Km of 40Km/h roadworks speed limit where the roadworks were finished over six weeks ago. There were no workers, machinery, barriers along that 2Km of road with the exception of six or more 40Km/h speed signs. It was fortunate I did keep a low speed (I was doing almost 50Km/h when I rounded a bend came into the view of a Highway Patrol & the copper flashed his headlights and waved for me to slow down as we passed each other.

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