SA wants lower speed limits on rural roads

Local councils asked to assess about 200 rural roads, but SARTA warns lowering speed limits may have adverse consequences

By Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi | October 3, 2013

The South Australian Government wants to lower the speed limit on rural roads in a bid to reduce accidents.

It is calling on local councils to assess around 200 rural roads as more than 60 per cent of crashes recorded between 2008 and 2012 happened in regional areas.

Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure Eastern Regional Manager Jon Whelan says the fatality rate for the State’s rural areas is nearly five times greater than that of metropolitan Adelaide.

National and international data, including reports from the Centre for Automotive Safety Research (CASR) indicates that lower speed helps reduce road trauma, he says.

It shows decreasing the speed limit by 10km/h to 100kmh will reduce fatalities by more than 100 each year.

"The risk of a casualty crash doubles for every 10km increase in speed on these roads," Whelan says.

He says the DPTI has no plans for a State-wide blanket reduction of speed limits on all roads.

Rural roads will instead be assessed for factors such as crash history, geometry, width and proximity to roadside hazards such as vegetation and other fixed objects.

"A speed limit reduction will only be considered for those roads where it is appropriate when assessed against the Australian standard," Whelan says.

"Consideration will be given to feedback received from stakeholders including councils, the Royal Automobile Association, South Australian Police, Centre for Automotive Research, Local Government Association and the Motor Accident Commission."

South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) Executive Director Steve Shearer says lowering the speed limit on rural roads will only make those travelling behind trucks more frustrated.

He also believes that truck drivers may experience fatigue if they lower their speed limit to 90km/h to maintain a 10km/h speed difference to cars.

"If governments of all persuasions actually did their jobs and maintained roads properly, then we would not have this issue," Shearer says.

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