Speed limits up for review as government moves to make roads safer

Ian Bushnell 13 November 2020 94
Country road

Reduced speed limits, as well as other measures such as safety barriers, are being planned to improve safety on the ACT’s roads. Photo: File.

The ACT Government is considering lower speed limits on major urban and rural roads to reduce the number of serious and fatal crashes occurring in the Territory.

This could mean that roads where there is currently a 100 km/h speed limit could be reduced to 90 km/h, or 80 km/h zones could become 70 km/h zones.

So far this year, six people have died on ACT roads.

As police continue to express their frustration at the number of drivers being caught speeding, Major Projects Canberra has released a tender for a consultant to review major roads and prioritise those that would benefit from lower speed limits or other safety treatments such as roadside barriers.

It comes after Transport Canberra and City Services last year commissioned the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) to analyse fatal and serious crash risk on the ACT arterial road network and give roads a safety rating of one to five stars.

The ARRB applied various safety treatments in its study, including lower speed limits, Audio Tactile Line Marking, roadside and median barriers (wire rope) with ATLM, and conversion of intersections to traffic lights with a right-hand lane, and estimated the subsequent reduction in Fatal and Serious Injury (FSI) crashes.

The reduced speed limit scenario – 100km/h to 90km/h and 80kmh to 70 km/h – produced an estimated 42.9 per cent reduction in total FSI crashes over the next five years.


READ ALSO: “Baffling and reckless” speeding offences in 2020 already eclipse 2019 total


Application of ATLM reduced FSI crashes by 36.7 per cent, ATLM plus roadside barriers 72.9 per cent, ATLM plus roadside and median barriers 73.1 per cent, and traffic lights 27.5 per cent.

The study found a reduced speed limit would have a greater effect on urban roads than rural roads as more urban roads would have a speed limit less than 80 km/h, whereas a higher percentage of roads in the rural network would retain a speed limit of 80 km/h or more.

The inclusion of roadside barriers showed a significant improvement in both the star rating and FSI reduction across urban and rural roads. The addition of a median barrier was also estimated to reduce the number of head-on crashes.

The government has listed 20 urban and 13 rural roads to be given priority based on the ARRB report. These include major urban roads in Tuggeranong, Weston Creek, Belconnen and Gungahlin such as Sulwood Drive, Streeton Drive, Kingsford Smith Drive, Wells Station Drive and Horse Park Drive.

The rural roads include highways such as the Kings and Monaro Highway but also Brindabella Road, Tharwa Drive, Cotter Road and Uriarra Road.

ACT roads in the ARRB study

Maps showing ACT roads in the ARRB study.

The consultant will rank roads for attention, and select and design appropriate safety treatments.

When it comes to lower speed limits, the consultant will examine their feasibility where proposed by ARRB – based on crash history, public concern, traffic volumes and other possible safety treatments – and make a recommendation to ACT Roads.


READ ALSO: “A life can change in the blink of an eye” – a family’s plea for road safety


For rural roads, high-risk areas are to be identified and interventions recommended, including design options and estimated cost.

In the case of the Uriarra cycle loop – Uriarra Road, part of Brindabella Road and part of Cotter Road – the consultant will consider explicitly appropriate safety interventions that make the loop safer for the many cyclists that use it.

The tender documents say the recommendations may provide opportunities for the ACT to seek funding from the Commonwealth to improve road safety on the ACT network.

Roads ACT’s long-term goal is for all of the Territory’s urban roads to be rated three stars or more.

ACT Policing reported this week that officers had already issued 4,093 traffic infringement notices for speeding in the year to 31 October, eclipsing the 4056 traffic infringement notices issued in all of 2019.


What's Your Opinion?


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94 Responses to Speed limits up for review as government moves to make roads safer
Karl Chamberlain Karl Chamberlain 2:59 pm 23 Nov 20

Police should not be frustrated by the inevitable demands of policing a nearly half a million population.
I suspect our infringement level is no higher than in other Australian jurisdictions.

ChrisinTurner ChrisinTurner 9:42 pm 19 Nov 20

What about the poor pedestrians and bicycles trying to use our 50 km/hr residential streets.

spmm spmm 5:57 pm 19 Nov 20

Canberra is the worst place to drive – brilliant road surface for the most part – full of the worst drivers – tailgating, aggressive, entitled, in so many new cars with indicators that don’t work. No one should be dying on Canberra roads. Agree that the signage and merging is dreadful – right turn across 6 lanes with no lights to get to the botanical gardens. People are bored because they have done the same twenty minute drive to the same office for years – no excuse.

tim_c tim_c 5:21 pm 19 Nov 20

“…police continue to express their frustration at the number of drivers being caught speeding…” If they’re so frustrated, why don’t they lead by example instead of themselves blitzing around typically at ~20km/h over the posted speed limit?

Glenn Beaumaris Glenn Beaumaris 9:37 am 14 Nov 20

It never ceases to amaze me that road safety policy is a one trick pony. How about the govt grow a pair and have a strategy that tackles all factors which contribute to accidents, not just speeding.

Tom Jancik Tom Jancik 1:44 am 14 Nov 20

or you could, and bear with me now i know it's a radical idea, make the main road into canberra NOT a 1 lane country track?!

    Jason Tankard Jason Tankard 8:20 am 14 Nov 20

    Tom Jancik what road are you talking about.... most are all 2 lane duel carriage ways now.

    Tom Jancik Tom Jancik 12:23 pm 14 Nov 20

    Jason Tankard the one from Yass/Melbourne was still 1 lane last time I drove up.

Jason Tankard Jason Tankard 12:49 am 14 Nov 20

By this same logic though, roads that can safely support a higher limit should be raised also.

They complain about people speeding, but that is because of the constant speed reductions, which also increase overall commute times. The people having the accidents are not all those getting booked for speeding, though in some cases some of those accidents will be speed related, people driving outside of the speed limit or their own driving abilities or suitable road conditions...

Lowering more speed limits will not stop more speeding, if anything it'll make it worse. People learning to drive properly and driving to the road conditions and improving their own ability to drive (plus actually paying attention, and not being distracted with their phones, gps, radio or distracted by kids in the car), will do a much better job of reducing accidents on the roads.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 8:26 pm 13 Nov 20

“The ACT Government is considering lower speed limits on major urban and rural roads….”

…and obviously has been for some time (given the amount of work which has already been done on this subject), but didn’t choose to make that an issue in the election which was held 27 days ago – what a surprise.

That said, if one of the outcomes of this process is to achieve more consistency in the limits on major roads, rather than changing limits on the same road – without any apparent compelling reason – there might be some benefit in that.

Drivers who can focus on what they and other drivers are doing, rather than watching out for speed signs signalling a changing limit, and white vans taxing transgressors of such changes, are probably a bit less likely to have accidents.

Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 7:51 pm 13 Nov 20

How about no.

David Blundell David Blundell 6:54 pm 13 Nov 20

I think drivers from other countries is a big problem they can't drive

    Tom Jancik Tom Jancik 1:46 am 14 Nov 20

    australian drivers are atrocious, i wouldnt be throwing any stones. there's zero focus here on actually teaching people to drive, just on reducing speed limits and putting more restrictions on roads and drivers.

ssek ssek 3:54 pm 13 Nov 20

Speed limits designed around cars from the 1960s need to be lowered? Sounds exceedingly unlikely.

This town is a joke. Honestly, if you want to reduce accidents, start fining crap drivers. You know, the ones that are a mobile road hazard, doing 20 under the limit in the right hand lane, refusing to use indicators, can’t keep their vehicle in their lane etc etc etc.

    JC JC 6:59 pm 14 Nov 20

    And 1960 traffic levels too. Traffic volumes are the main issue especially as when things get congested people don’t know how to slow and drive to conditions.

g210 g210 2:19 pm 13 Nov 20

If morning traffic on the GDE is any indication, the problem isn’t the posted speed limit. It’s the complete lack of enforcement of the existing speed limits. Simply making the numbers on signs lower won’t have any impact on safety.

    JC JC 7:00 pm 14 Nov 20

    What? People speed on the GDE during the morning peak? Dunno how.

russianafroman russianafroman 2:12 pm 13 Nov 20

It’s the 1 percent who ruin it for everyone else, it’s the people who get into crashes which are the ones who don’t follow the law. Only the good follow law. Making everyone go 80 kmh doesn’t work since those who will crash are the ones who speed. And if you’ve ever been to Los Angeles you know it’s culture to go 30 kmh above the speed limit at least. CULTURE is what determines this, not law. Law is largely ineffective in stopping those who seek to break the law. Punishment is what deters criminals not laws.

Janet Kippex Janet Kippex 11:50 am 13 Nov 20

Excellent news.

Kerry Mulgrue Kerry Mulgrue 8:51 am 13 Nov 20

We need to simplify the speed limits. Only need three limits. 40 around schools and high pedestrian areas, 50 in the suburbs and 80 on the faster roads. Canberra's drivers are unable to handle a vehicle in trouble at high speeds. Once those limits are established we need to improve initial training backed up by regular reassessment and retraining.

David Brown David Brown 8:38 am 13 Nov 20

This is a disguised attempt to raise Going Fast Tax. Canberra drivers have become law abiding. Hence GFT takings are down. The obvious solution is to lower the speed limits to force more people to be caught speeding. In the name of safety of course.

Julian Hamstead Julian Hamstead 8:19 am 13 Nov 20

Instead of making the roads safer for the stupid people. Just remove the stupid & selfish people off the road.

Everyone should be tested at what speed they have control of a vehicle. If you can't control a vector at 80k/h. Then you're not permitted on any road with a posted speed of 80 or above. Same goes for 60k/h roads.

If you break the big road rules such as mid range drink driving, repeat offender, speed above 15k/h, use mobile phone whilst driving or drive under the influence of drugs. You should lose the right to ever drive again. Get rid of workers licences, no other licence you can lose & get a temporary one.

Driving is a privilege, not a right.

Archie Mac Archie Mac 7:48 am 13 Nov 20

So cars are getting safer and safer and we’re reducing the speed limits?

Or lower speed limits mean more chance of revenue from speed cameras 🤷🏾‍♂️

    Jason Tankard Jason Tankard 12:44 am 14 Nov 20

    I've been driving an 1996 r33 skyline for the past 10 years, no abs, no airbags or modern safety features. There is definitely no issue with the speed limit, and if I felt there was, simple common sense says drive slower to match conditions and the road...

    They should not be lowering the limits, but either improving the roads and infrastructure for the future, and also teaching people to drive better, and to stop stuffing around with their radios, phones and gps units and actually focus on driving. Stop relying on the car and the safety feature to drive and make you feel over confident and do stupid things!

Ol L Ol L 7:47 am 13 Nov 20

Wouldn’t matter as their is nil police presence on our roads anyway.

Herman Riet Herman Riet 7:36 am 13 Nov 20

Will only make some just to travel faster

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