Expert: lower speed limit won't work

TOM HUNT
PORIRUA REPORTER
Last updated 17:00 12/07/2012

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A road safety expert is arguing the speed limit on a deadly stretch of road should not be reduced.

Porirua City Council is considering reducing the speed limit on Paekakariki Hill Rd - a 17km stretch of road between Paekakariki and Pauatahanui - from a mixture of 70kmh and 80kmh to a blanket 60kmh limit.

According to council documents, a drop in the speed limit would reduce accidents on the road.

But Stephen Wickens, who lives on the road and is a senior trainer for the Safe and Fuel Efficient Driving Course, argued against a reduced limit at council subcommittee hearings today.

''Reducing speed limits is not necessarily the same as reducing speed and I have not seen any evidence that serious accidents on Paekakariki Hill Rd have been the result of drivers complying with the current speed limits,'' he said.

The nearby Grays Rd, earlier labelled by coroner Ian Smith as one of the Wellington region's most treacherous roads, had its speed limit cut from 80kmh to 60kmh in 2010, leading to a drop in accidents.

Mr Wickens said a council assertion the same would be mirrored on Paekakariki Hill Rd if the speed limit was dropped was ''lazy science''.

''While there are some similarities, Grays Rd and Paekakariki Hill Rd have significantly different characteristics, and require different solutions.''

He proposed increased enforcement of the current speed limits, installation of traffic cameras, and enforcement of the 20kmh limit when passing a school bus.

In 2009, British man Richard Chambers, 26, died after smashing into a tree on Paekakariki Hill Road. Tests showed he was over the legal alcohol limit.

The mangled wreck of his car was used by road safety authorities as the centrepiece of a hard-hitting drink-drive campaign.

In January this year James Burkhalter, 58, died when he rode his motorbike around a corner and crashed into a car turning into a driveway on Paekakariki Hill Rd.

The subcommittee has received many submissions on its proposed changes to speed limits of Grays and Paekakariki Hill roads.

Among them is a group of Paekakariki Hill Rd residents advocating for a reduced limit.

Also up for consultation is a proposal to drop the speed limit near Corinna, Titahi Bay, St Pius X, Porirua Primary, Holy Family, Windley, and Postgate schools, as well as Mana College, to 40kmh during peak times.

Porirua City Council's Te Komiti will consider recommendations on August 16.

Contact Tom Hunt
Porirua reporter
Email: tom.hunt@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @tomdom76

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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