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Why did you have to set new speed limits?

There have been 101 crashes on this route between 2009 and 2018. Seven people died and 14 were seriously injured.

There are a number of high-risk intersections on this route and businesses that are difficult to access from the highway safely. People also told us that the current inconsistent speed limits on the road were confusing for motorists.

Reducing speeds is one change that we can make quickly which will make a difference straight away.

No matter what causes a crash, speed is always a factor in the severity. Put simply, the speed of impact can be the difference between walking away or being carried away from a crash. This is especially true when pedestrians or cyclists are involved.

Speed also reduces the available time to react to a mistake of yours or someone else’s making. The faster you are travelling, the less time you have.

What are the new permanent speed limits?

Location New speed limit from 18 December 2020
360m East of Mahoetahi Rd to 400m West of Princess St 80km/h
430m East of Princess St to 300m East of Bayly St 80km/h

Map showing new speed limits on SH3 between Waitara and Bell Block

How were these limits decided?

The speed review process involves numerous steps that help determine the speed limits we propose at consultation.

The first step is completing a technical assessment which takes into account the road itself, the traffic volumes, the crash history, and the way people are currently travelling on the roads.

Following the technical assessment, we undertook informal engagement with road user groups, members of the public, councils, AA, road transport associations, and the Police. The feedback we received from engagement helped to determine if and what we will formally consult on for proposed speed limit changes.

During consultation we ask the community and road users for submissions on any external factors, we may need to be aware of. The consultation period runs for a minimum of four weeks. Once consultation closes, we analyse the submissions and review our technical assessment.

The consultation for the proposed speed limit changes is not a vote, it is about seeking valuable local and community input so that we can consider wider factors and context into our decisions.

For more information about how we reached these decisions, read our consultation summary report.

Consultation summary [PDF, 533 KB]

Learn about the speed review process

Setting new speed limits is a legal process, and Waka Kotahi as a Road Controlling Authority (RCA) is responsible for setting new speed limits on New Zealand’s state highways. We are guided by the Speed Management Guide, which is a national framework that helps RCAs make informed, accurate and consistent speed management decisions in their communities. We also need to adhere to the Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2017, which sets out the roles and responsibilities of the RCAs for reviewing and setting speed limits. 

Speed Management Guide [PDF, 7.4 MB]

Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2017

When do the speed limit changes come into effect and how are the public being notified?

The new speed limits take effect on Friday 18 December 2020.

The public will be notified of the new permanent speed limits through the newspaper, on the radio, on the Waka Kotahi website, and on social media.

How many crashes have there been on the route?

There have been 101 crashes on this route between 2009 and 2018. Seven people died and 14 were seriously injured.

A small change in speed makes a big difference, especially when cyclists or pedestrians are involved. Most crashes are caused by a number of contributing factors, but even when speed doesn’t cause the crash, it is most likely to determine whether anyone is killed, injured, or walks away unharmed.

Won’t the new lower speed limits mean the trip will take a lot longer?

The permanent speed limits will have a minimal impact on travel times. Based on current operating speeds travel time would increase by less than 20 seconds.   

Did you consult with the public on these changes?

Yes. In November and December 2019, we consulted with the public on the proposed permanent speed limits. We received 77 submissions.

Consultation summary [PDF, 533 KB]

Consultation submissions [PDF, 7.1 MB]

What other safety improvements are you making to the highway?

Physical safety improvements, including roundabouts at high-risk intersections, wide centrelines and median barrier are currently being designed for the route. The new speed limits will help prevent deaths and serious injuries on the highway immediately and support the physical improvements once they are made.

Find out more about the physical safety improvements being made to the route

How does speed affect road safety?

Speed is the difference between a correctable mistake and a fatal error. Every extra km/h increases the likelihood of someone having a crash. Regardless of what causes a crash, speed always plays a part. The faster you drive, the more likely you are to crash, and the more severe the outcome of that crash.

As your speed increases:

  • the distance you need in order to stop increases
  • there is a greater probability that you will be going too fast if you meet an unexpected change in road conditions
  • there is a greater chance that other road users will misjudge how fast you are travelling.

The severity of injuries resulting from a crash is directly related to the impact speed of the vehicle – whether speeding was a factor in the crash, or not.

Isn’t it just bad drivers that are the problem?

Everyone makes mistakes, but simple mistakes should not cost lives. To make New Zealand’s roads safer, we are working to improve every part of the transport system. This means safe drivers, safe roads, safe vehicles, and safe and appropriate speeds.

Why didn’t you extend the speed review all the way into New Plymouth?

This section of SH3 has median barrier so is a lot safer than the rest of the route under review.