Speed reduction not practical, council says

'Their heart is in the right place'

RHONDA MARKBY
Last updated 05:00 27/02/2013
Bob Douglas
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/Fairfax NZ

SPEED CALL: Federated Farmers’ regional policy adviser Bob Douglas with the speed the organisation wants for New Zealand’s unsealed roads.

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Federated Farmers wants the speed limit on all unsealed roads reduced to 80kmh.

And it was keen to start with the Timaru District. But the district council has said no, believing if there is to be a change it should be at national level.

In its submission to the council's bylaw review, the South Canterbury branch described it as anomalous that many roads in rural areas had the same maximum speed limit as major highways and motorways. It argued unsealed roads were often narrower than others, had narrower verges, and vision was more likely to be impeded on an unsealed road.

"We accept that one prime rule of driving motor vehicles is to 'drive to the conditions'. Regrettably many drivers do not follow this principle and believe they can drive to the speed limit, regardless," the submission said.

There were also the issues of long grass and stock on the sides of rural roads, Federated Farmers regional policy adviser Bob Douglas told the council yesterday.

The cost to the council of such a change was "mind-boggling", district services manager Ashley Harper said, adding that speed signs would be required on every gravel road.

"Their heart is in the right place, but it is not practical."

It was not possible to travel at 100kmh on most unsealed roads, rural councillor Richard Lyon said, adding there was effectively an element of self-policing.

Cr Steve Earnshaw supported Federated Farmers, saying the lower speed limit should be applied to unsealed roads nationwide. With a reduced roading budget there was no way the council could even consider the speed reduction with the associated cost of new signs, Cr Pat Mulvey said.

If the road was sealed at some stage, the speed limit would need to be changed again, he said.

After 30 years of driving on gravel roads, Cr Jane Coughlan said it was sometimes possible to drive at 100kmh.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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