13 November 2020

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

| Ian Bushnell
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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.

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Karl Chamberlain2:59 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.

ChrisinTurner9:42 pm 19 Nov 20

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

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.

“…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?

HiddenDragon8:26 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

russianafroman2:12 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.

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

The Riot Act poll regarding this is a yes or no question, however, my response would be somewhere in the middle. Some roads could have speed limits reduced for safety; particularly highways or rural roads, but there are calls to dramatically reduce speed limits on city and inner-city roads for the purpose of inconveniencing traffic to encourage cycling and public transport usage, which I would not agree with.

Dean Lambkin6:48 pm 12 Nov 20

Would really like to see a public forum on cycle laws and appropriate safety instead of the government who are cycle biased engaging a consultant who will be given the task of achieving an outcome that suits the political agenda.
Changing speed limits won’t solve the issue whilst there is an attitude of we are invincible and can do what we want in the cyclist world.
Instead of changing speed limits on the “cycle loop” from uriarra rd to the cotter road via brindebella road, the sensible safety option would be to assess the width of the road and current laws then work from there.
Look at the speed in which a cycle is capable of, then use common logic that also takes into account the national road rules and be honest with themselves if safety is the true outcome.

Safety would suggest that cycles be limited to roads 60km or less, with the exception of 80km/h roads that have a dedicated cycle lanes, then add in that single file in mandatory at all times to address safety.

As the current ACT Labour laws stand, cyclists can ride basically however they want and their safety is everyone else’s responsibility. Case in point on Uriarra Rd when the cyclists ride close to the centre line and you leave a 1.5m gap to pass most cars have to drive off the road on the opposite side to pass legally.

So if Mr Barr and his cronies who are highly involved in pedalpower ACT were serious they would look at current laws first and cyclist behaviour before wasting more of the taxpayers money to justify their agenda.

We know that this will never happen as it is politically motivated for their agenda not the true safety of all road users!!!

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