Review of Speed Limits on Rural Roads

Submissions closed on 15 March 2019, 05:00 PM

Thumbnail image for District-wide Review of Speed Limits on Rural Roads consultation.

Council is undertaking Stage 1 of a district-wide review of speed limits on rural roads. Stage 2 will look at urban speed limits.

The overarching purpose of this review is to ensure that safe and appropriate speed limits are set on Council’s roads, thereby enhancing the safety of the district’s road network.  By reducing the speeds it reduces the severity of crashes so that there are less fatalities and serious injuries.

The review also aims to establish consistent speed zones, minimising frequent changes to speed limits, so the public knows what to expect and to avoid confusion. 

Once the appropriate speed has been established for each road, and following the completion of public consultation, the Speed Limit Schedules in the Land Transport Bylaw will be updated.

What are the new rural road speed limits?

The changes reduce speed limits on most rural roads to 80 kilometres per hour (km/h) and reduce speed limits on most rural residential roads, unsealed roads and selected rural roads to 60 km/h.

Some urban roads are also affected, with some 70 km/h speed limit zones in urban fringe areas changed to 50 km/h. 

A full list of speed limit changes is available on the Land Transport Bylaw 2017 page.

When did the speed limit changes come into effect?

The reduced rural roads speed limits came into effect on 15 August, following ratification at the Council meeting on 14 August.

Did Council consult the community about the changes?

Yes. We carried out an initial online survey, followed by a formal engagement period. The online survey had 740 participants and we received 98 submissions during formal engagement. The majority of public feedback supported lowering speed limits on rural roads, and the feedback was taken into account in the recommendations Council officers made to elected members. The proposal was adopted with the support of all elected members.

Did people have an opportunity to say speed limits should stay at 100 km/h during public engagement?

Yes. In the initial online survey, people had the opportunity to provide free comment on every question. In addition, formal engagement offered the opportunity for the public to provide any feedback they wished as a written submission to Council.

Who Sets Speed Limits?

The responsibility for setting of the speed limits rests with the Road Controlling Authority, which is Horowhenua District Council for all local roads in our district or New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) in the case of state highways.

Speed limits are set in Council’s ‘Land Transport Bylaw’ by resolution of Council.

What are the Standard Rules and Guidelines for Setting Speed Limits?

Speed limits and speed limit settings are required to comply with the Land Transport Rule ‘Setting of Speed Limits 2017’, which was introduced into law in 2017.

The Land Transport Rule ‘Setting of Speed Limits 2017’ is part of the Government’s Safer Journeys Strategy which is aimed at reducing the number and severity of crashes on NZ roads.

The Safer Journeys Strategy is implemented through a series of action plans which allocate responsibilities to transport sector partners such as road controlling authorities.

NZTA’s new ‘Speed Management Guide’ released in late 2016 and online Risk Assessment Tool, fulfils part of the ‘Safer Journeys Action Plan’ and sets the criteria for determining and implementing safe and appropriate speed limits for road networks.

What is the Purpose of a Speed Limit Review?

As part of the safer journeys approach to road safety, we seek to set speed limits on our roads that are appropriate for the road conditions and environment on a given length of road.

Over a period of time the critical parameters for the establishment of a speed limit may change, so it is important for speed limits to be periodically reviewed to ensure the speed limits for a particular road is appropriate and accurately reflects the safety risk to road users.

When reviewing speed limits they must undergo specific criteria in accordance with the NZTA’s ‘Speed Management Guidelines’, be recommended and approved by Council and go through a round of public consultation before new speed limits can be applied. 

How are Speed Limits Set?

The fundamental principle in setting speed limits for a particular length of road is that the established speed limit should reflect the road safety risk to the road users while maintaining the ability of people to easily get to their destination.

Key factors that are taken into consideration in the establishment of speed limits include crash history, road function, road use, roadside development, road characteristics, adjoining roads, traffic mix and the presence of vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicycle riders.

Other factors may also include the number, type and frequency of driveways and intersections which indicate potential conflict points. These potential conflict points are considered because they allow vehicles to turn across traffic where there is the chance of a severe ‘t-bone’ type crash occurring.

Will there be a Speed Review for Urban Roads?

Yes. We will be working on Stage 2 - Urban Roads once we have completed and implemented Stage 1.

How do I Request that a Speed Limit be Reviewed?

You can suggest a review of a speed limit at any time. It is best to put your request in writing and send it to Horowhenua District Council. 

How much did the rural speed limit changes cost?

The total cost to Council is approximately $60,000. This includes buying and installing the new speed limit signs, and other associated expenses.

When will the new speed limit signs be installed?

The new signs are programmed to be installed by mid-October 2019. 

Why does the speed limit on some roads differ from the speed limit Council proposed?

In consultation with New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), 22 roads for which an 80 km/h speed limit was proposed have been identified as needing to have speed limits reduced to 60 km/h to meet NZTA requirements. The roads are:

Rural residential roads

  • Emma Drive
  • Jackson Road
  • Kristin Place
  • Twin Peaks Grove. 

Rural roads

  • Albert Road
  • Buckley Road
  • Engles Road
  • Fairfield Road (northern end)
  • Florida Road
  • Gladstone Road (from Water Treatment Plant, towards Poads Road direction)
  • Kaihinau Road
  • Kingston Road
  • Kuku East Road
  • Kukutauaki Road
  • McDonald Road
  • Paeroa Road
  • Tamatarau Road
  • Tangimoana Road
  • Vista Road
  • Wallace Loop Road
  • Wallace Road
  • Whakahoro Road.

These new speed limits are expected to be ratified at the Council meeting on 11 September 2019.

Horowhenua District Council, as the road controlling authority, is responsible for reviewing and setting speed limits for all roads under its jurisdiction.

Reviewing and setting of speed limits must be in accordance with the Land Transport Rule ‘Setting of Speed Limits 2017’, which was recently signed into law and forms part of the Government’s Safer Journeys Strategy.

Launched in 2010, the Safer Journeys Strategy is designed to guide New Zealand's efforts to improve road safety from 2010–2020, with the vision of “a safe road system increasingly free of death and serious injury”. The strategy is implemented through a series of action plans which allocate responsibilities to transport sector partners such as road controlling authorities.

To help Councils set the correct speed limits the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) developed the ‘Speed Management Guide’ which it released in late 2016 and an online Risk Assessment Tool. The guide and risk assessment tool fulfils part of the ‘Safer Journeys Action Plan’ and sets the criteria for determining and implementing safe and appropriate speed limits for road networks. The aim is to create national consistency and credibility for road users with speeds that reflect the road environment, nature and use of the road, road safety and roadside development.

By law, the following parties are required to be included in the formal consultation:

  1. Local communities considered to be affected
  2. Any adjacent Road Controlling or Territorial Authorities that are affected
  3. The Commissioner – Ministry of Transport
  4. The Chief Executive of the New Zealand Automobile Association
  5. New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA)
  6. NZ Police
  7. Any other organisation or user group that is considered to be affected. 

Under the old rules for setting speed limits, all rural roads were 100km/hr unless certain stringent criteria could be met allowing the speed to be lowered; this approach has led to occurrences of inconsistent and inappropriate speed limits that are not safe for the road environment and conditions. There is also growing public demand and expectation for safer speeds.

The review was undertaken in accordance with the government’s Safer Journeys Action Plan and NZTA’s Speed Management Plan, to bring about a greater level of credibility and consistency to the speed limits in our district.

Speed limits should be consistent through areas where roads have similar characteristics, taking into account such things as roadside hazards, development, traffic, and alignment.