The Northern Territory Government will lift speed limits from another 60-kilometre stretch of the Stuart Highway from north of Alice Springs to the Ali Curung rail overpass.
The new unlimited zone connects with the two existing unlimited lengths of the highway – 204km between Alice Springs and Barrow Creek, and 72km from Barrow Creek – to create a 336km stretch of unrestricted road (excluding past road houses and through communities).
NT chief minister Adam Giles praised motorists for acting responsibly on the highway since the open speed limit trial began in February 2014, with a lower number of accidents in the trial sections and 130km/h zones compared with the five-year average.
“The expansion of open speed limit zones is part of the Country Liberals’ commitment to give back responsibility to the individual,” Giles said.
“Driver safety has always been paramount during the trial and the sections of the Stuart Highway selected were chosen because they represented the least risk and lowest crash statistics.”
Giles said traffic counter data shows there has only been a small increase in vehicle speeds in the trial sections, with 85 per cent of drivers travelling between 133-139km/h.
“The survey results indicate most drivers are driving to the conditions and believe the upgrades have improved the safety of the road,” he said.
Among the 11 crashes that occurred during the trial period on the trial stretches of highway there were no fatalities. Only one serious injury was reported, and alcohol and not wearing a seatbelt were identified as factors in this incident.
NT transport minister Peter Chandler said the government would continue to take an evidence-based approach to highway speed limits.
“The Territory has a unique road network with long distances between towns and low traffic volume,” Chandler said.
“With the expansion of open speed limit zones, we are putting responsibility on motorists to drive to their own capabilities and to the conditions of the road.”
Upgrade works will start this month to clear trees away from the edge of the highway, widen curves, upgrade the guard rails at Barrow Creek bridge, add livestock fencing, and improve line markings, reflectors and signage.