Skip to content Skip to main navigation

News

Fly direct from
Canberra to New Zealand

Roadwork Speed Zones Increasingly Pointless

By MatthewOfCanberra - 18 July 2010 28

Something really ought to be done about the way 40km/hr signs are deployed around roadworks in the ACT.   It isn’t working, and it’s annoying road-users.

A recent informal poll at my workplace suggested that everybody agrees that road workers need to be protected, and that 40 km/hr signs are right and proper when they are actually next to roadworks.  But pretty much everyone thinks they way they’re being used in the ACT is ridiculous, and the general view is that they don’t work.

In the ACT, 40 zones are being deployed when it just isn’t necessary – when there is no danger to drivers or workers (or even, as has recently been the case along Belconnen way, when there are no workers present at all).  Over the years, I have actually seen 40 zones put up a fortnight before any roadworks began, and not taken down for a fortnight after they were complete (Northborne avenue. 1999/2000).   The signs are sometimes placed up to a hundred meters before and after the roadworks.  Why?  What possible purpose does that serve?  If people are going to speed, they’ll speed no matter far out the signs are.  How about just putting the signs next to the roadworks?

The problem is that road users aren’t buying it.  They might as well have 60  km/hr signs on the current Belconnen way roadworks, because that’s how fast the traffic moves on weekdays.  If that’s a danger to workers, then the current approach is failing them.

Part of the problem is that the zones (at least leading in and out of Belconnen) are not being enforced properly.  Nobody believes they’re going to get caught, and they’re basically right.

A more serious problem (I believe) is that drivers feel like they’re being treated like mugs.  The signs don’t realistically consider the road conditions and they apply when no work is under way at all.   And I don’t just mean during particular hours of the day – there was a 40 zone beneath an overpass at Glenloch/GDE for several weeks while all work had quite obviously halted and there was no risk to anybody.  Nobody is going to obey that sort of silliness forever and, after a couple of weeks of ignoring the signs, drivers simply kept ignoring them when work resumed.  Total benefit to road workers – nil.   And steadily making the zones longer is no solution either – it just compounds the problem and actively encourages drivers to ignore the signs and use their own judgment.

I think we can do better.  If speed zones really do protect road workers, then we really ought to do better.  Here’s my suggestion:

(1) Start putting up sensible speed zones.  Don’t stretch them out over kilometers if the work is only happening in a small section.  If 80 is too fast because a lane is closed but there’s no actual work going on, then consider a 60 zone.  Don’t just whack 40 signs from Belconnen to Braddon to protect the witches’ hats or some machinery parked next to black mountain CSIRO.   Road users just aren’t that silly.  Ideally, I’d like to see drivers be allowed to use their judgment – perhaps allow them to do 60 in the zone, but slow down to 40 when passing any people.  It’s basically what drivers are now doing anyway.

(2) Start properly enforcing the speed zones.   If the people setting out the signs started being reasonable, I doubt many would protest if police really threw the book at drivers who ignore them.   Put in place a sensible set of rules and put a radar camera on every works site.  Lets start protecting the workers and respecting road users.

Disclaimer: I have never received a ticket for speeding in a roadwork zone.

What’s Your opinion?


Please login to post your comments, or connect with
28 Responses to
Roadwork Speed Zones Increasingly Pointless
Filter
Showing only Website comments
Order
Newest to Oldest
Oldest to Newst
Woody Mann-Caruso 9:54 am 20 Jul 10

The setp at the hospital was interesting recently. Between the hospital construction, the slip lane works on Hindmarsh and the bridge work near Mawson, the signs went 80 > 60 > 40 > 80 > 60 > 40 > 80 > 60 > 40 > 80. Was tempted to pull over to get a pic on my phone of the ’40’, ‘END ROADWORK’, ’80’, ‘ROADWORK AHEAD, ’60’ and ‘ROADWORK 40’ signs within 20m of one another just before the A&E turnoff southbound. I guess each crew is responsible for setting up signs at the start and end of their works and it just turned out they more or less joined up, but not quite.

My trip computer says our average speed over the last 6000-odd km of driving in Canberra has been a whopping 44.2km/h, so can’t say 40 zones bother me much.

Ceej1973 12:13 am 20 Jul 10

And I suppose, if they were to change the speed limit after hours to 60/80/100km/hr and you were to drive into that ditch that the workers have been constructing, you would go straight to the insurance company and claim for damages, citing that the road is dangerous. You and the majorities assume that speed limits in construction zones are solely for the protection of workers and thier assets. I have worked with Workcover and alongside Dept.of ACT Roads, and yes ACT Roads do accept a lot of stupid TTM’s from Civil Constructors, but you should be rest assured, that speed limits are there for the workers and you!

MatthewOfCanberra 8:29 pm 19 Jul 10

To all those good folks who say “just live with it”, I think you’re missing my point.

The issue isn’t whether I speed, or whether you speed. It’s whether the majority of road users pay attention to speed signs when it’s really important – and I think the answer is basically no. Stand alongside the black mountain 40 km/hr zone on Belconnen way tomorrow with a radar gun and you’ll discover that most people are doing 60, whether or not anyone’s working. That’s the problem .

I absolutely agree with you all that lower speed limits are sometimes appropriate – particularly when there are people working beside the road. It’s not just dangerous to speed past them – it’s also downright rude and inconsiderate. That second reason is why I don’t do it.

The problem, as I see it, is that people are becoming so accustomed to seeing ridiculous 40km/hr zones that they’ve tuned out – and when they actually SHOULD be doing 40, they’re not.

darkmilk – that might be true, but you won’t see 40km/hr signs on Cross road next to Myrtle Bank because somebody’s digging a hole at the Unley rd intersection. That’s the current situation on Barry drive/Belconnen way.

Power Protect – you’re right, there are hypothetical reasons why the speed limit should be lowered. But once the signs are placed, it’s not hypothetical. Drivers will be able to clearly see when they’re being treated like mugs (which is quite a lot) and drive accordingly. My suggestion is to NOT treat them like mugs, and (really) demand appropriate behavior in return. I think most road users would applaud that.

Anyhey, I hope those 40 signs aren’t really important, and I hope that driving at 60 past workers on Barry drive (and I don’t do that) doesn’t put them at risk. Because that’s what people do. “No change” is a continuation of an obvious policy failure.

Matt 😉

astrojax 1:44 pm 19 Jul 10

nicnacvb said :

They are called “fake roadworks”.

Has anyone ever been to the coast without encountering “fake roadworks”? There is always at least one section where the speed limit has been reduced to 40km/h unnecessarily. The “road works” are deserted and look like they have been for months.

Those of you who say its only a small inconvenience, can you honestly say you always slow down to 40km/h on a stretch of road that’s usually 100km/h on a Friday night when the road works are deserted?

I’d be very sceptical of anyone who did.

ok, be skeptical of me then…

To sum up: If you sit up my ass while I am doing the posted speed limit, I will keep slowing down until you back off.

+1 🙂 have been known to ease down to near 20kmh for idiot tailgaters who seem to think it a right they can speed on the same public roads i and my family use.

actually, another offence under the motor traffic regulations often committed through these zones (and elsewhere, for that matter – often coming off round-a-bouts) is crossing an unbroken lane line. if the lane marking next to you is unbroken (ie solid) DON’T cross it. sheesh. so many drivers who should be handing back their licence.

but tailgating is a more serious issue than road work zone speedsters…

astrojax 1:40 pm 19 Jul 10

To sum up: If you sit up my ass while I am doing the posted speed limit, I will keep slowing down until you back off.</i?

+1 😉 have been known to ease to as low as 20kmh to annoy tailgaters, then speed up through where the limit stops applying and see them miles behind – like it would have made them a difference.

another breach of the motor traffic regs one sees in these zones too often is the crossing of an unbroken lane line. unbroken (ie solid) dividing line to your lane means DON'T cross it. so many people ought to be handing back their licence…

actually, tailgating is a much more significant problem than roadworks speedsters…

Sgt.Bungers 12:46 pm 19 Jul 10

It’s the boy who cried wolf concept. Reduce the limit too often when it’s not needed and people will eventually dismiss the limit altogether… only to find that one day a slower speed was actually needed. However in this case, it is the villagers (motor vehicle operators) who are penalised if they ignore the wolf crying of the silly young shepherd (ACT gubbinment and their contractors)

Wherever possible, roadwork zones should be returned to within 20km/h of the usual limit for that stretch of road when the workers have packed up for the day.

Reduce complacency when it comes to setting speed limits and you’ll reduce complacency among the drivers/riders who must obey them.

nicnacvb 11:56 am 19 Jul 10

They are called “fake roadworks”.

Has anyone ever been to the coast without encountering “fake roadworks”? There is always at least one section where the speed limit has been reduced to 40km/h unnecessarily. The “road works” are deserted and look like they have been for months.

Those of you who say its only a small inconvenience, can you honestly say you always slow down to 40km/h on a stretch of road that’s usually 100km/h on a Friday night when the road works are deserted?

I’d be very sceptical of anyone who did.

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2018 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
www.the-riotact.com | www.b2bmagazine.com.au | www.thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site