The Northern Territory Government will reintroduce open speed limits on a stretch of the Stuart Highway as part of a 12-month trial program beginning next year.

A 200km section of the highway between Barrow Creek and Alice Springs will be trialled without speed limits for one year from February 1, 2014.

Delivering on an election commitment, NT Transport Minister Peter Styles said the stretch of road selected for the trial had no identified road geometry issues and low crash numbers.

“The Territory has a unique road network with a low traffic volume and this section of road has been identified as an appropriate trial section,” Styles said.

“In the 10 years between 2001-2011 there wasn’t any speed related fatalities on this stretch of road.”

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The NT’s highways were restricted to a maximum of 130km/h in 2007 by the then Labor Government. Styles insisted the return to open speed limits was not a licence to drive recklessly or dangerously, and said the government was bringing responsibility back to motorists to drive to the road conditions and their abilities.

“Open speed limits mean driving to the road conditions – everyone should drive within their own capabilities, the condition of the road, prevailing weather conditions and the standard of their vehicle,” he said.

“Learner and provisional drivers and heavy vehicles will continue to be speed limited as they are now.

Styles warned police would continue to prosecute dangerous drivers and would increase the enforcement of drink driving and the non-wearing of seatbelts.

The announcement has drawn criticism from a number of the NT’s road and safety authorities.

The Automobile Association of the Northern Territory told ABC Online the quality of the roads was not suitable for open speed limits, while the NT Police Association says it does not support the decision, claiming it appears to ignore expert advice.

Do you think the NT Government should reinstate open speed limits on its highways? Let us know in the comments section below.




  • Doctor

    About time!

  • johnr

    What happens in Germany ?
    Can Australian drivers be trusted to stay safe .
    My car is limited to 255 kp/h would it be legal in the hands of myself an older Aussie ?
    Will hoons ruin the whole idea and will overseas people come here just to try out our unlimited roads.?
    Is the road safe enough and will the Kangaroos be an issue ?Imagine hitting wild life at plus 200 kl/h even in my Volvo I would be paste .

    • http://www.bryanbyrtrenault.com.au/ Modern Man

      i have seen plenty of cars hit a kangaroo at 110 in victoria and believe me it is a mess of the roo, the car, and the people inside if hit head on and the thing comes inside.
      Dont understand the germany question unless you are being sarcastic as they have had and still have unlimited sections of the autobarn.
      guess what will happen on NT roads, a few more ‘younger people(in heart or age)’ will head on up before it is canned again and 1 or 2 may write themselves off as they are driving beyond their and their cars limits but most will be fine.
      Anybody driven in NT freeways? they are smooth, brilliant and wide. not even our multilane eastern side dual and triple carriageways would compare.

      • Alice

        Yea verily

    • Rabid Cat

      Is the road safe enough? Drive to conditions, only speed derestriction can directly offer you that, a speed-limit simply gives you something to drive at – often come what may.

      • Alice

        That would be Yes the road is safe,
        No speed limits don’t guarantee safety.
        I drove for 30 odd years on the Stuart Highway when it had no speed limits without incident … kangaroos in their thousands included.

        The trial section between Barrow Creek and Alice Springs is straight, very little traffic and so far without an incident or death.

        Inexperienced Tourists who are driving hire vehicles are a problem, so is alcohol on Territory roads

    • Yetiman

      Germany has a strict road worthy evaluation and a rigorous driver training. I think Australia is way to relaxed.

    • Alice

      It wasn’t a problem for the 30 odd years I drove on the open Stuart highway.
      Most drivers sit on 130 km anyway.

  • Zaccy16

    Finally! some common sense! drive to the conditions not to the ridiculously low speed limits!

  • Golf

    Why not other states do the same? They have good highway like Hume Highway.

    • Dave

      There’s so few people on the Highway it’s fine, if this was done on the Hume it would be a death trap, that being said a 130km limit would be good.

      • Rabid Cat

        No, 130kmh for much of the NSW and VIC Hume is a no go, as much of the length has median located U-Turn bays; you get idiots illegally pulling out in front of you at the existing 110kmh limit, let alone the same scenario in with 130kmh limit. The U-Turn bays must first receive barrier treatment a la M1 that deters fools doing illegal U-Turns. Further, – the length has many intersections, these need to be ugraded to interchange standard. The only NSW lenght that could take 130kmh would be from Cambelltown to Berrimah, its full-motorway, no intersections just the desired nterchange, though this length still needs U-Turn barrier treatment and full-length median barrier to prevent cross-over crashes. VIC Hume has about 20 remaining intersections (and an equal number of desired interchanges); for that state to post 130kmh, each should be upgraded to interchange status. At least the major carriageway works are all completed.

    • Alice

      I drove on the Hume Highway only last February 2013.
      There is no comparison with Territory roads and conditions.
      The Hume Highway has way more traffic

  • HJP

    I think it would be good if this should also be trialled on Hume Highway between Melbourne and Sydney. But unfortunately it won’t happen.

    • Jacob

      I have a great idea.

      On Sundays, allow EastLink to have a speed limit of 150-200km/h. People that dont like driving over 100km/h can use other roads on a Sunday.

      Then those of us who want to drive at 150-200km/h can do so on Sunday and those that dont can use Springvale Rd.

      • Lee

        Good idea. Wouldn’t mind paying double on tolls for this.

  • dan

    Well its a great idea but like always u will have lovers and haters drive to your ability and the conditions like all highways should have a higher speed limit we live in a vast country and its a long way to go if your doing 110km on a highway even freeways should increase the speed limit left lane 80- 100 middle lane 100 – 120 and right which we all should know is the fast lane well should be 120 – 130km u slow down as u leave the freeway ……….. hears hoping

  • ddd

    On an undivided road?? Don’t run over a rabbit or a wallaby at 250kmh, that will send the car all over the place.

    • Rabid Cat

      Then don’t do 250kmh, is it that hard?

      • ddd

        There are cars coming at 250kmh half a meter away.

  • DukeGanote

    “Hoons and Hillbillies” — such vehement scaremongering by the opposition! Seems the real fear is that citizens will prove themselves quite capable of evaluating road and traffic conditions without strict nannying…

  • Rabid Cat

    Drive at a safe comfortable speed for the prevailing conditions, take a break as needed. If stopped by the roadside keep your left indicator on. Reduce speeds at dusk.

  • CarCrazy

    About time! Hopefully a full reintroduction of the unrestricted limits comes back! (What the new Liberal party promised)

  • peter

    Long overdue to get back to reality. Long distances make it more practical to up the speed limits. Where roads are in good condition, as they are in the NT, speed should not be an issue. Idiots are the issue with accidents. Tailgating causes the accidents in Oz. UP the limits on all dual lane highways where the surface is in excellent condition.

  • For the Rd

    From above, it says that there were no speed related fetalities between 2001 and 2011 yet the speed limit of 130 was introduced in 2007 so basically 6 years of no fatalities on a rd with no speed limit!! not sure why they need a trial to tell you it is safe to do so!!!

    • Phil

      exactly what I was about to say.

  • falcodore

    Harold Scruby is just anti-car and doesn’t realise that fatigue is a major contributing factor of accidents on country roads. He probably has more blood on his hands than any single person in this country be it criminal, politician (same thing?) or otherwise. Why someone from the pedestrian council is passing comment on a road with no pedestrians I have no idea. He really has no authority in this area and should just keep his stupid mouth shut!

  • Rick

    Wow finally someone with some commonsence . I guess there’s not a lot of speeding revenue to be had out there ? Unlike say nsw and Victoria

    • Fullthrottle

      I was there before the speed limits came in to effect and it was great. It felt safe to drive on back then and it will once again. Not that many people want to drive really fast when they have the choice anyway. About bloody time.

  • big jim

    I like the cut of you jib Styles – Bravo!

  • Alice

    Good job
    There wasn’t a problem before when it was an open sped limit.
    Fatigue kills!

  • Alice

    Honestly… reading some of the comments really leaves me shaking my head.

    I came to the Territory in 1978, when it was Open speed limits.
    I have yet to see ANYONE travelling on the Stuart Highway at 250 km/h.
    People just don’t do that kind of speed.

    Its not the Canonball Run lol
    Get a grip !!

    • ironstone

      “Get a Grip”, that’s funny.

      Open them up, natural attrition will occur. I fully support no limit areas of road. Having joined and gone beyond the 1,000,000 km Club professionally, I have seen first hand how low speed and long distances don’t mix. Let the passenger vehicles go, get out of the way of heavy road transport.

  • MR

    Its good to see that the liberal party is bringing back the open speed limit back into the territory, I never got the chance to go on open speed limit roads before.

  • mal

    there is nothing wrong with open speed limits! just drive to the conditions, drive to the car and your capabilities, you’ll reduce you drive time and fatigue! which is what the aurthorities keep telling us is a major killer, 100 -130klm/hr is mind numbingly slow on a long hot stretch of hwy you experience in the NT, and there lies the problem with the law makers, they have the blinkers on that speed kills, but i bet none have travelled NT i.e experienced what its actually like, they just make decisions from their big city desks! The Powers that be just hate giving the populous personal choose and not having control over every aspect of our lives scares them. Everyone just be safe out there, watch out for and be Courteous to other drivers, take Responsibility for your own actions and let the do-gooders know we can be entrusted to look after ourselves!

  • DonaldK

    Hi people, I saw this discussion when researching a round the world trip, am currently in Thailand but will be arriving Darwin mid-Feb 2014. I commuted to work in Germany for many years at plus/minus 250 kph, dangerous yes but gets you there in no time. Am planning to hire a car to go to Alice, will there be speed limits set on hire cars, despite the derestricted trial? In reality I won’t drive above 150k due to risk of hitting wildlife. Thanks

    • DonaldK

      Please ignore, I answered my own question. Phoned Budget at Darwin Airport, they said no hire car limit below posted limits.

  • s gilbert

    definitely on the main highways. i regularly drove the track (stuart hway, dwn – kulgera & further) & vic hway to kununara & barkly hwy – very good roads. would mostly do 140, too much fuel consumption & shaking of car beyond that. max i did was 170 wit no safety worries

  • Anton

    Wonderful! I cant wait to get down there and do 200km an hour in my Cayenne. I do not travel very long at that speed anyway. Usually 150km is enough.

  • GeoffAG

    Experience from practice and advice should be considered when a driver chooses to travel at high speeds. The age or type of vehicle is no guarantee of safety. Divided roads are solely the judgement of the driver as to whether they could survive a collision with a stationary object, whereas the potential collision speed on a single lane road is a combination of both vehicle speeds. As it stands now, could you survive a collision at over 220Kph?

  • Sick of slow

    Definitely as it should look at speed limits in other states and get the country moving not bring it to a stand still as they have done in Victoria

    • Mendoza

      On my travels I found there are some roads in Vic that are well maintained should have a 110klm speed limit or even 120klm but you can only do 100klm other roads the top of VIC have a 110klm but should be 90klm because of the condition of the roads. Very unsafe for motorbike riders and other users. I have come to the conclusion that the speed they post have not a thing to do with the quality of the roads.
      How do they determent the safe speed limit of a road ? I think they just pull road names out of a hat and say ” yep this ones 110klm and that ones 100klm.” “This small town with one house and no traffic will be 50klm and this one with 2 pubs and 10 houses will be 100klm” (You know who you are!! :P )
      The Government needs to spent more money on our roads.

  • ken2be

    When I first started driving once out of a built up area and
    no street lights it was open road and should be returned back to that in my
    opinion. Australia is a big country and out of the big cities a lot of kilometers
    between towns and cities. Traveling at 100 K’s for half
    an hour or 1 hour tends to send people to sleep if traveling faster you have to
    consent trait which make it a lot harder to fall asleep I have found. I think a fair amount of accidents are because
    of this may be I am wrong but don’t think so. I have always had V8 cars in my
    early days and have done a lot of driving at around 160 + K’s and have had no
    problems. Roads were a lot worse than
    they are now days. Night time is different it is hard to see animals in the
    night so you drive slower if it is way in the country side regards ken