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Journeys : Jun Jul 2011
• “ As you realise, the current speed limits around Hobart are a hodgepodge.” • “ It works in New Zealand! Have just arrived home after a holiday in NZ: 50 km/h works, so does 100 km/h on the open road!” • “ The lanes in Murray Street are too narrow to allow a 60km/h speed anyhow and, on a wet night, it is impossible to see the lane markings in the lower end of Argyle Street.” • “ I really have to mention that it would certainly benefit safer driving through the busier parts of Hobart.” While others had concerns about the proposed changes: • “ The roads are getting busier and the time to travel takes longer as it is.” • “ My suggestion is to do something real to improve behaviour – not just rely on speed limits.” • “ We do not need the speed reduced any more as it is very obvious on the roads now that all it is doing is making drivers even more inattentive.” • “It would simply become a revenue raiser for the Government.” • “ To hold many vehicles today at 50km/h requires riding the brakes, creating brake dust, heat, pollution and high brake pad wear, plus lower fuel economy and higher pollution.” It is clear that compromises will have to be accommodated by motorists if some roads that have been signed at 60 km/h are reduced to 50 km/h. So is there a compelling case for the reductions, based on a higher-risk evaluation? R ACT believes the answer is yes. Pedestrians ‘vulnerable’ - especially in urban areas A significant body of Australian research supports the claim that a reduced urban default speed limit to 50 km/h has been associated w ith road safety benefits, especially in reduction of crash numbers involving pedestrians. At a local level, a report by DIER’s Traffic and Infrastructure branch found that of the 1516 serious casualty crashes in Tasmania between 2005 and 2009, 156 (10%) involved pedestrians. Unprotected by a vehicle, the effects of a conflict are far worse for pedestr ians. According to the DIER report, “17% of crashes involving pedestrians result in death or serious injuries ... This is why pedestrians are often referred to as vulnerable road users.” Access the full report at http://bit.ly/pedestr iancrashestas Far more vulnerable around Hobart A separate analysis conducted by DIER of the fatal and serious injury crashes on the 60 km/h roads in the Hobart municipality over the last five years shows a much higher-than-average incidence of ‘vulnerable road users’ involved – especially pedestrians (see Figure 2). A map of the crash locations showed a wide distribution across the network, without pinpointing any particular streets or intersections. The Hobart City Council has proposed that by reducing the speed limit from 60 to 50 km/h on these roads, the speed limit environment will be more consistent and understandable for road users. In addition, the lower limit should lead to lower travel speeds, which will be safer for v ulnerable roads users, especially pedestrians. RACT's concerns for motorists While R ACT accepts the rationale for this change, in par ticular the need to reduce the risk to vulnerable road users, we express our concerns that it may have unintended and negative effects on our members. In particular, the potential for speed traps and over-enforcement in new speed limit areas must be mitigated to avoid accusations of revenue-raising and to ensure that these new limits retain credibility. RACT has received assurances from DIER, Tasmania Police and the Council that the following practices will accompany this change to minimise these impacts: • Extra on-road speed limit signage, possibly including ‘Changed speed limit ahead’ signs, to ensure that road users are fully aware from the initial stages of the new reduced limits on each of the roads. • An adver tising campaign explaining the changes and detailing the locations to support the on-road signage. RACT has committed to assist this campaign in Journeys. • No reduction in the funding invested in basic road safety infrastructure on these roads, such as clearly-visible line markings, or other treatments such as pedestrian refuges or intersection upgrades where necessary. In other words, these speed limit reductions must not be used to simply replace spending on road upgrades. • Roadside signage noting ‘Speed camera ahead’ will be used by Tasmania Police to inform road users that speed enforcement operations are being undertaken on these roads with newly- reduced limits. • Tasmania Police will not undertake an amnesty per iod but will take a balanced and reasonable approach to enforcement of these new zones, particularly using the current system of infr ingement cautions wherever possible. We have also asked the Department to set a target for the casualty crash savings that they expect from this measure – they have nominated an annual figure of a 10% reduction. Any RACT member who believes that they have been issued an infr ingement notice unfairly (for example, long-term residents who have always used a particular road and who inadvertently exceed a new lower speed limit) should always write to Tasmania Police to challenge the notice. Motor News Journeys June/July 2010 In our community June / July 2011 7
Apr May 2011
MNJ Aug Sep 2011