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Open speed limits for Territory? - The Age

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by Sir Ride Alot, May 8, 2013.

  1. #1 Sir Ride Alot, May 8, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2013
    Open speed limits for Territory?

    Date May 8, 2013 - 12:12PM Sam Hall

    Government reviews decision to lower speed limits after road toll didn't drop significantly.


    Northern Territory speed limits on open roads could rise from 130km/h to unrestricted.

    The Northern Territory could soon return to having open speed limits on remote sections of highway after its road toll failed to drop at the same pace as the rest of Australia.

    Northern Territory chief minister Adam Giles is reviewing speed limits on the Stuart, Victoria and Barkly Highways as part of a pre-election promise. Giles has already flagged likely increases to the speed limit on selected sections of highway, and is expected to announce his decision shortly after delivering next week's Territory budget.

    Open speed limits were abolished by the former Territory Labor Government in 2006 and replaced by a maximum limit of 130km/h.

    In the six years since, more people have died on Northern Territory roads (307) than in the six years before the change (292).

    Fatalities on the Stuart, Victoria and Barkly Highways have almost halved since speed limits were introduced, from 62 to 32, but the statistics show that the drop is more to do with fewer drink-drivers and the increased use of seatbelts by Territory drivers. The number of speed-related deaths droppped from six to four, while the number of alcohol-related deaths dropped from 22 to eight and the seatbelt-related deaths dropped from 19 to nine.

    While the Territory road toll has increased in the six years since the introduction of speed limits, the Australian road toll for the corresponding period has reduced by 14.3 per cent (or 1414 people).

    Giles said the government was assessing the findings of three separate investigation reports before it made a decision.

    “I have consistently stated that any review of speed limits will be evidence based,” he said.

    “The priority goal is to balance having effective and efficient speed limits in place with road safety for all road users.

    “The current investigation is based on crash data, road features (width and rutting) and operating characteristics dependant on engineering design of road sections.”

    Scrapping the speed restrictions would see the Northern Territory return to having discretionary limits, similar to high-speed sections of German autobahns. The road fatality rate per 10,000 vehicles is lower in Germany than Australia (0.8 versus 1.0 per 10,000, according to 2009 figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics), despite vast sections of 130km/h and open speed highways.

    Despite the Northern Territory case study – and some overseas examples where speed limit increases have had little or no effect on fatalities - there is still overwhelming opposition to raising the speed limit in other Australian states or the ACT. NSW Minister for Roads and Ports, Duncan Gay said that there would be no review of NSW speed limits. "We have no plans to have unlimited speed-limits on our roads," he said.

    Professor Max Cameron, a researcher at the Monash University Accident Centre, said the Territory Government would be risking lives.

    “Increasing the speed limits again in the Northern Territory is very much in the wrong direction,” Professor Cameron said.

    “The simple answer to reducing fatalities in rural environments is to reduce speed limits, not increase them.”

    In NSW, authorities say speed is the biggest contributor to the state’s road toll. However, as with the rest of Australia, their definition of speeding does not relate to the speed limit but “inappropriate speed for the conditions”, among other factors.

    In Australia there are no statistics on how many fatalities are caused by motorists exceeding the speed limit.

    “Excessive speed is straightforward, however, there are often cases where a vehicle is travelling below the posted speed limit, but the speed is deemed inappropriate for the conditions,” the general manager of the NSW Centre for Road Safety, Marg Prendergast, told Fairfax.

    University of NSW Professor Mike Regan said inattention was “the biggest contributing factor we know of for crashes”, and that crash analysts oversimplified the role of speeding.

    “Often speed is coded as the causal factor but if you think about it more laterally it could be that a person was distracted and as a coincidence they went over the speed limit,” Professor Regan said.

    “I think sometimes it’s a matter of being a bit more precise in knowing what the actual causal factor was ... most of the time you’re relying on police reports at the crash scene to determine what the causal factors were.”

    Lobbyists and some safety experts have long advocated increasing speed limits to 130km/h on major arterial roads such as the Hume Highway, arguing it would not cost lives and could reduce the rate of fatigue-related crashes.

    Between 2008 and 2012, fatigue was a factor in 24 per cent (148 ) of fatalities on NSW highways. However, since speed limits were introduced in the Northern Territory, fatalities caused by fatigue are unchanged (13 in the five years prior and 13 in the five years since).

    Prendergast challenged the view that higher limits would reduce fatigue-related crashes.

    “There is no evidence to suggest that increasing speed limits reduces boredom and there is also no evidence to suggest that a reduced speed limit increases fatigue related crashes,” she said.

    Professor Cameron said that on top of overwhelming evidence against increasing speed limits, Australia’s older fleet of cars, sub-standard roads and poor lane etiquette were further reasons not to increase speed limits.

    “What we do know is that the speeds on rural roads in Australia are particularly high and in fact should be reduced.”

    With Toby Hagon, David McCowen

    Road toll
    Year NT AUS
    2001 50 1737
    2002 55 1715
    2003 53 1621
    2004 35 1583
    2005 55 1627
    2006 44 1598
    2007 57 1603
    2008 75 1437
    2009 31 1488
    2010 50 1352
    2011 45 1277
    2012 49 1310
    Source: Northern Territory Department of Transport, Department of Infrastructure and Transport.

    Poll: Should governments consider higher speed limits?

    Yes 91%

    No 9%

    Total votes: 3327.

    These polls are not scientific and reflect the opinion only of visitors who have chosen to participate.

    • Agree Agree x 1
  2. I'd say the poll is rather convincing!
  3. Well it would certainly increase tourism to the area. It can only be a good thing for the area as the report said most of the fatalities are caused by drink driving and seatbelt use and probably a few from the super dodgey cars used by some of the locals.

    Most of the people out there need to drive hundreds and hundreds of kilometers just to go to the shops, anything to make that trip shorter is a good thing.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. Fatigue kills more people in remote areas, they die of Fugg'in boredom driving hundreds of miles at walking pace.

    The open limits are likely to start south of Katherine. Hundreds of Km's of open road, wide open verges, with even the worst sections better than what must southern states offer up as national highway.

    I did see two open limit signs in Thunderbolts way tucked away off the side of the road last month.
  5. there ssome other things to take from this. at the same time as introducing the speed limit, the NT introduced traffic police, demerit points, and thanks to the northern territory "intervention" a crapload of bored police saw a 250% increase in traffic "crimes" hitting the courts... and a massive increase in infringements issued.... all of which achieved bubkiss.

    going from naught to infinity... no limits, no police, no demerit points to all of those things which MUARC cherishes so dearly acieved precisely NOTHING. There has never been a better example, a better test of the "australian experience" of road safety best practice... as a monash professor likes to put things... that the approach we are taking has absolutely no affect on road safety.

    what the Northern Territory experiment proves is that the net affect of these policies is revenue raising, and the loss of employment for those unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of too many tickets...

    If governments were truly basing their decisions scientifically, the evidence is in, the comparison has been done, reality has spoken.... now, will they listen? i doubt it.
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  6. "Prendergast challenged the view that higher limits would reduce fatigue-related crashes."

    “There is no evidence to suggest that increasing speed limits reduces boredom and there is also no evidence to suggest that a reduced speed limit increases fatigue related crashes,” she said.

    They are not increasing speed limits they are getting rid of them. In other words the road user will finally be free to make their own decisions on what speeds they travel at.
  7. yeah brick, there are a few of those in nsw once you get into the back roads, but im fairly sure you cant just go mental as the state limit of 110 still applies. Quite a lot of them up near lismore and such. You generally cant go more than 100 on them though unless you have balls of steel and a deathwish, because of the surface, number of corners, and the fact undivided roads means that a landcruiser could be in your face just around the next bend.

    They are nice to see though.
  8. With the VIC government announcing the reliance on an increase in speed camera fines to make budget, expect reductions here with higher fines.
    Then on the other hand, it won't feel the same if higher limits were legal. Hehe
  9. While we had the odd hero low level pilot in the "good 'ol days". Most people still only travelled around the 120-130kph mark.

    I for one will look forward to the return of common sense on our NT roads.
  10. yeah i meant to reply to this earlier... Pretendergast is a tool, I read a study a while back that had a bunch on speed reducing fatigue... i think it may have been this study, which according to the European Road Safety Observatory:

    A German simulator study showed that participants drive faster the longer they performed the driving task [42]. However, driving faster did not diminish general driving performance. The researchers considered this as evidence for the hypothesis that drivers attempt to adapt their attention-level (by changing speed). In other words, by changing speed drivers may change sensory input which may spur the body and mind to put in extra effort to notice and respond to signals from the environment.

    Hargutt, V., Hoffmann, S., Vollrath, M. & Krüger, H.P. (2000) Compensation for drowsiness & fatigue - a driving simulation study. In: Proceedings of the International Conference on Traffic and Transport Psychology ICTTP, 4-7 September 2000, Bern, Switzerland

    ... so drivers go faster to counter fatigue and their driving performance isn't negatively affected..... hmmmmmmmm
    • Like Like x 2
  11. #11 Ljiljan, May 9, 2013
    Last edited: May 9, 2013
    Pretty much all of this. Except they are 100, not 110. Brick being from NT, it would easy to be mislead.

    With regard to unlimited roads, Australia needs them so badly. We are such a hugely spread out country. NSW should have speed limits removed west of the Newell on the major highways, same with SA, WA and QLD. Roads are virtually unpatrolled anyway, a bloke from Sydney recently tested the range on his gsxr600 at WOT in qld. Straights of 5-10 km and more are just ridiculous. The drive from Broken Hill to Cobar was sending me ape, while WOT in a toyota echo - but maybe that was because it was in a toyota echo.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  12. While I'm yet to accuse muarc of intellectual integrity, we can't just fly off the handle either. Looking to NT for a Victorian road safety strategy is like looking for a worm in a whiskey bottle.
  13. As long as they ban any Cannonball Run type events similar to the one the had back in the early nineties.

    Another stunt like that and any resultant accident / death from it would bring the
    anti speed freaks out in force, which would probably end in the speed limits being severely cut forever.
  14. One of the things i noticed as soon as I crossed the border in my recent half lap of the country, is that in the NT not only do we seem to have wider roads, the verges on either side are usually cleared back from the road about 6-8m. This means you can not only see wildlife and other potential hazards, you can see around bends for overtaking. It also gives you an exit plan if the local drunks make things interesting. In both South Australia and Victoria, there is trees, bushes, and tall grass right to the edge off the bitumen. It's impossible to see potential hazards before they happen. If southern state governments were serious about reducing accidents in rural areas, they could follow the NT's lead, grab a chainsaw and a lawn mower and clear some verges. The ability to see, and then anticipate hazards would allow higher speeds in southern states.
  15. I lived in the centre for a few years and most locals I knew would travel at around 140-160. I had an old panel van which did 140 flat to the boards and would overheat above 110 on a hot day and I used to find the monotony exhausting. The few times I had a car that would comfortably travel faster than this, I found it much easier to stay alert.
  16. Yes, I believe that someone was sensible up here and designed the roads for open limits in the first place! You can tell where the QLD border is....the road turns from fantastic, wide and well laid road to a track that might be from WWII when you go into QLD...although I am told that the roads in QLD were improved in the last few years.
  17. As someone in north qld, I can only assume they are all south of the sunshine coast, all north of noosa is craptastic. PM has been up here pushing her plan to federally fund a road upgrade, one can see a pattern in the demographics/voting history of the electorates up for the fix...
  18. I'm talking the A8-A2 from Townsville into the NT, but generally the A2 is where it got rubbish, after Mt Isa. Like I said, I am told it is better now. One thing that surely makes it easier in the NT is that it is pretty flat most of the time.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  19. Yes ... there are huge stretches of roads that could be open speeds and people allowed to determine what speed is appropriate for the conditions (and that includes their fatigue levels). The silliest thing is riding into SA from the NT and suddenly going from 130kph to 110kph ... WTF ... I couldn't detect any change in conditions but it sure got tedious.
    Most people tend to travel at 130ish anyway (with bursts for overtaking the grey nomads) out in those areas as that is a reasonable balance between getting places and ok fuel economy. Plus some roads need caution due to animals on the road .. and we are talking large cattle, horses, camels ! and bloody big roos ... the Barkley seemed littered with em.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  20. and then going from SA to Vic and the limit dropping from 110 to 100..... things just get stupider as you get closer to melbourne. Altona specifically.