There are calls for the Government to put the brakes on a yet-to-form speed management group given its decision to halt speed limit reduction work on all but 1 percent of the state highway network.
The decision came as part of the Government’s reprioritisation plan earlier this year with the programme significantly narrowed to focus on areas with the highest numbers of deaths and injuries.
The plan was part of the ambitious Road to Zero strategy.
But, despite a scaling back, a nine-member committee to keep tabs on the reforms is still being set up.
National’s transport spokesperson Simeon Brown said it did not make sense.
“It should be scrapped. The Land Transport Rule that they put in place needs to be reviewed, to ensure that actually the rule is applying what the policy intent of the Government currently is.
“It seems that the Government’s changed the intent when it comes to state highways, but that doesn’t flow through to local roads, [so] they need to fix it.”
The Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2022 came into effect in May last year and with it, the establishment of a Speed Management Committee.
The committee would be responsible for making sure speed management plans across the country met the intention of the rule, and were consistent between local councils, which set the speed limits for local roads, and Waka Kotahi, which then decides them for state highways.
“We still need… top quality advice from people who have expertise in this area. So whether we’re doing 1 percent or 5 percent of the network, we still need to make sure that the right people are there to give good advice on it. It’s a safety critical area.” – Michael Wood.
Committee members would be paid $330 per day, and the chair $500 per day.
A Ministry of Transport spokesperson said despite the reprioritisation, Waka Kotahi still needed to come up with a speed management plan under the rule.
“This will be guided by the recent announcement that speed management should be focused on the most dangerous 1 percent of roads, roads around schools and marae, and stretches of state highway that go through towns/cities.”
Transport Minister Michael Wood defended the committee saying there was still plenty of work for it to do.
“Waka Kotahi still has an important role to ensure that there are safe speeds on the state highway network. We’ve asked them to focus on the 1 percent of roads but of course most of the roads in New Zealand are local roads.
“So there’s still a whole process whereby they will be considering safe speeds on those roads and we need to make sure we’ve got the whole system set up to consider that.”
He said changing the Land Transport Rule, or rescoping the committee’s membership and terms of reference would waste time and money.
“We still need … top quality advice from people who have expertise in this area. So whether we’re doing 1 percent or 5 percent of the network, we still need to make sure that the right people are there to give good advice on it. It’s a safety critical area.”
He acknowledged the committee may have less to do now, but this could save money.
“Obviously if they have a lesser part of the road network to consider they might have fewer meetings per year and the costs will reduce.”
A review of the speed management programme, including how the committee is working, will happen in 2025.