The Andrews Labor government has stopped a progressive reduction of 70km/h and 90km/h speed limits following a campaign by community newspapers and a peak Victorian motoring club, the RACV.
Originally implemented by the previous Coalition government, the policy aimed to reduce speed limits to 60km/h and 80km/h respectively in 70km/h and 90km/h zones.
The policy was originally implemented due to advice from the Victorian body responsible for paying claims for road accident victims, the Transport Accident Commission (TAC). The TAC claimed that for every 5km/h increase in speed above 60km/h, the risk of a collision resulting in death doubles.
According to the TAC website, “Research shows that with each 5km/h increase in travelling speed above 60km/h, the risk of a collision resulting in death doubles.”
“Reducing speed by 5km/h can result in a 15 per cent decrease in crashes.”
The government’s Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan attributed the policy change to community confusion and uncertainty.
“On coming to government, Labor is reviewing the former Coalition policies and this is an example of a policy that created community anxiety unnecessarily and needs to be changed,” Mr Donnellan said.
“VicRoads will continue to assess all roads on the basis of the road condition, accident data, volume and type of traffic and feedback from road safety partners and the community.”
While a number of suburban streets and localities which have already had their speed limits reduced in the past few months will remain at their lower limits, all future reductions would be halted. Mr Donnellan said that future speed limit reductions will only be done where safety was a factor.
A number of community groups have called the policy change unsafe and claim that road users are being placed at risk.
Cycling Victoria spokesman Marcel Lema said the decision to not reduce limits puts cyclists at further risk of being hit and killed.
“We think that’s appalling for vulnerable road users and we’re calling for any 70km/h or 90km/h road with a bike lane to be changed to a lower speed limit,” Mr Lema said.
The change in policy has been supported by road safety engineer and industry expert Robert Morgan, who was involved in the 1990 speed limit review conducted by VicRoads, the Victorian motoring body. Mr Morgan claims the removal of 70km/h and 90km/h speed limit zones was a pass at fixing something that isn’t broken.
“It was safe last week when it was 70, why isn’t it safe this week,” Mr Morgan said.
Either way you slice it, the policy change will either enrage or please some road users.
What’s your view on the policy change? Do you support the reduction of speed limits and subsequent increase in travel time? Or, do you think that a reduction in speed limits will improve driver attitudes on the road?