MoT survey shows surge in public support for 110kmh open road speed limit
Motorists' need for speed is ramping up, with a new survey showing a jump in support for the limit to be raised from 100kmh on the open road.
The Ministry of Transport's latest Public Attitudes to Road Safety Survey shows that, when asked if the 100kmh speed limit should be raised, lowered or kept as is, 71 per cent wanted the status quo, 4 per cent wanted it lowered and 25 per cent wanted it raised.
It is a significant change from 2015, when 78 per cent said they wanted it kept at 100kmh and 18 per cent thought it should be raised.
The AA said about 71 per cent of its members polled recently supported the increase on top-rated motorways.
Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss said raising the speed limit had been up for discussion over the past year and it was possible the increase could happen, but no Government decision had been made yet.
"I acknowledge the public seem to have moved on this, but if something was to happen it would only be on the most highly engineered roads."
Advances in motoring technology had made new vehicles and roads safer and more comfortable, but – given the nation's ageing car fleet – the law had to apply to all vehicles, Foss said.
Over recent years the Government has warmed to the idea of a 110kmh limit on the best roads, including those built as part of the Government's roads of national significance programme, provided they are flat, straight, have two lanes in each direction, a median barrier, and good shoulder space.
Candidates would include the new Waikato Expressway, the Tauranga Eastern Link and the Northern Gateway toll road north of Auckland. In the Wellington region, the soon-to-be-opened Kapiti Expressway would qualify, as would Transmission Gully, scheduled to open in 2020.
Road safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of The Dog and Lemon Guide, said the public was "no longer blindly accepting of the idea that speed is bad".
"There's no safe speed and no unsafe speed. It's a question of appropriate speed for the conditions.
"The average motorist supports sensible enforcement of the speed limits, but only if they're sensible. It's perfectly safe to drive at 110kmh if the road is built for it."
He predicted the Government would introduce 110kmh sections of road over the next couple of years.
TEXT MESSAGE NOT GETTING THROUGH
Thirty-eight per cent of respondents to the ministry's survey had used a cellphone for sending or receiving texts while driving.
Drivers who thought it was unlikely they would get caught were more likely to have texted than those who thought they would get caught.
Foss said that, while progress was being made on people's attitudes to drink-driving, speeding and wearing seatbelts, there was still a lot of work to do with distractions such as texting, which people knew was wrong.
AA road safety spokesman Dylan Thomsen said people still failed to understand the risks of texting.
"What's controlling their behaviours most? Whether they think they'll get caught, or whether they think it's a smart thing to do?"
Matthew-Wilson said police were not really serious about stopping people driving while using cellphones.
"If the police were serious, they'd lobby for the powers to do something effective about the problem.
"As the situation stands, the ban on handheld cellphones is one of the most ignored laws in the country."