Speed drop on the Newell justified, safety boss says

There is substantial evidence to justify cutting speed limit on Newell Highway, NSW Centre for Road Safety director says

By Michael House | November 24, 2009

The Director of the New South Wales Centre for Road Safety Soames Job says there is substantial evidence to justify a reduction in the speed limit on the Newell Highway.

He says traffic volumes have grown considerably alongside in change in traffic since the 110km/h speed limit was introduced.

"The risk of a crash being fatal is about 50 per cent higher on roads with 110 km/h speed limits compared to roads with a 100 km/h speed limit," Job says.

"In the past five years, 69 people have been killed on the Newell Highway, including 11 this year alone – and that is 69 too many."

He says national and international research also shows reducing speed limits cuts the number of crashes.

Job says evidence collected over time clearly proves this theory as do other examples of speed reductions on Highways in the state.

"Reducing the speed limit from 110 km/h to 100 km/h on the Great Western Highway resulted in a 26 per cent decrease in casualty crashes," he says.

The National Roads and Motoring Association (NRMA) has been highly critical over the reduction, saying fatigue is responsible for the high number of fatalities on the highway.

The group also says a reduction in the speed limit will have a major effect on driver deadlines.

Job says while he recognise fatigue does play a major part in the road toll, the reduction will give drivers more reaction time, while at the same time only taking away minuscule periods of time from their deadlines.

"If a person is fatigued and loses control of their vehicle, the chances of a crash being fatal will be substantially reduced if they are travelling at a lower speed," he says.

"This change will only add about four minutes to a journey between Parkes and West Wyalong; five minutes between Parkes and Dubbo and two minutes between Dubbo and Gilgandra."

Removal of the 110 km/h speed markings on the road surface began yesterday and electronic message signs will alert motorists to the reduced speed limit, which will take effect from 1 December, the Road Traffic Authority (RTA) says.

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