Are there too many changes in speed zones?
Despite a 2014 Austroads report finding there are too many speed zones and the frequency of zone changes is too high, chances of authorities making any changes as a result of the report are minimal, an Austroads official admits.
The 116-page “Model National Guidelines for Setting Speed Limits at High-Rick Locations” report is not a guide says Austroads Safety Program Manager David Bobbermen.
“Austroads Research Reports (such as the one you have referenced) are not as influential on road authority practice as that of the Austroads Guides,” David says.
“While some policy development emanates from research reports, road managers are more likely to change practice if that change is recommended by Austroads Guides or Australian/New Zealand Standards.
“Austroads is currently undertaking a more detailed research project: SAG6043 Speed Management: A Compendium of Effective Countermeasures which will outline procedures which can be used by road managers. This provides more detailed advice following previous research and drawing upon emerging practice from leading road authorities in this field.
“The aim is to move such advice to a Guide when trialed successfully.”
Minimum distance for speed zones
Apart from recommending a reduction in the number and frequency of speed zone changes, the 2014 report also suggested setting a minimum distance for a speed zone.
Fewer speed zones means fewer speed signs which means a reduction in dangerous roadside furniture that causes injury and death to riders.
However, the report also recommends that slower speeds would reduce injury and death risk. It says nothing about increasing speeds to reduce fatigue.
Wed suspect that reduced speed limits are more likely to be adopted in the upcoming National Road Safety Action Plan rather than reduced speed zone changes.
“While this (action plan) has not been released as yet, motorcycle rider safety was one of the considerations in the development of this key strategy for Australia,” David ominously says.
Australian Motorcycle Council spokesman Guy Stanford says the AMC has made a submission to Austroads which, among other things, suggested a reduction in the number and frequency of speed zones.
“There is one section of the northern NSW coast highway where the highway patrol hangs around just where there are many speed zones,” he says. “What they end up with is self-serving statistics about speeding.”
We all know of similar places where the speed limit varies too frequently. We also know how the police like to patrol such locations where motorists are easily confused.
Too many speed zones is one of the frequent complaints of motorists in the annual RACQ report on what peeves motorists. It is especially concerning for motorcycle riders who don’t have a speedo in front of their faces for constant reference or who could end up with aggro drivers sitting close on their tail.