The NZ Transport Agency is making permanent the speed reductions near Kaikōura put in place a year ago, when State Highway 1 reopened following the November 2016 earthquake.
“Following consultation with the community, we have decided to continue these speed limit reductions and extend some areas for lower speeds in the interests of road safety for everyone using these winding sections of highway,” says Transport Agency Director Regional Relationships Jim Harland.
The Police, AA, NZ Trucking Association and the three district councils (Kaikōura, Hurunui and Marlborough) were specifically included in consultation, covering from Waipapa Bay in the north to the Conway Bluffs in the south.
“The reopening of the road last year really brought home to locals just how busy SH1 can be - I think we'd forgotten what peak traffic felt like,” says Kaikōura Mayor Winston Gray.
“All drivers have a responsibility to keep themselves, their passengers and other road users safe by driving legally, sensibly and safely. The new speed limits may take some time to adjust to but, at the end of the day if they help keep our community and visitors safer it’s an adjustment most people will understand the need to make.”
Between 2012 and 2016,* four people were killed and 15 people were seriously injured on this road.
“Reducing the speed limits will improve safety, and help make those crashes that do happen survivable,” says Mr Harland. “Making one mistake on the road should not end a life. The lives changed when someone dies or is seriously injured on our roads extends to family and friends and impacts upon the whole community.
“Even when speed doesn’t cause the crash, it is will determine whether anyone is killed, injured, or walks away unharmed. Higher speeds increase the risk of making mistakes, reduce time available to react and increase braking time, making severe crashes more likely.”
The consultation took into account the high numbers of tourists and visitors who stop along the highway north of the town and the narrow highway corridor in many places.
The emergency speed limits put in place after SH1 reopened in December 2017 will expire on 15 December 2018, so a speed management review was undertaken to set a safe and appropriate permanent speed for these sections of SH1.
*The highway to the north of Kaikōura was closed for a year after the November 2016 earthquake.