Speed limit

Driving in Ireland – My Impressions

Guest post

There are three kinds of roads in Ireland: “R” roads, “N” roads and “M” roads.

“R” roads are ‘Regional’ and the speed limit is 80km/h – although most are so bumpy, narrow and windy, you’d be hard pressed to reach 70km/h! These would be the equivalent of our rural back roads (but narrower and with no verge)

“N” roads are ‘National’ roads and have a 100km/h limit – these would be more like our State Highways. Again no verge and generally no passing lanes. However they are reasonably wide and have a yellow striped marking about three quarters of a lane wide on the left (both sides) where slower vehicles are expected to pull over into to let traffic past. And with few exceptions, this did occur.

“M” roads are motorways with a limit of 120km/h. And with absolutely no apologies to NZTA, these bear absolutely no resemblance to our so-called ‘motorways’. The on-ramps and off-ramps are usually kilometres apart (which is one of the reasons why the higher speed is viable), not 1.5 km apart or less. The closest we would have (I think) would be the Albany Expressway or Waikato Expressway, where, in the latter case, I think there has been talk of having higher limits…

On all roads, the limit is regularly posted and there are also many, many speed camera warning signs. Although the fitted GPS in the car sounded a wee warning when I was going over, I confess to have been driving a few (maybe 10?) kilometres over the limit on occasion. I never saw a camera, and hope I didn’t cop a ticket, but I guess I will know in the next few weeks. All in all, the traffic was a joy to drive in, heavy or not, as people seem to be less aggressive and more considerate. Although they tended not to use indicators very often…

And an observation: I suspect the number of tractors (big John Deeres, Fords and Fergs) driving on the country roads is close to 10% of total vehicles, outside the cities!!

Some of the R roads were pretty hairy – just wide enough for the car plus a bit, high hedgerows or stone fences right up to the edge of the road and poor visibility for oncoming traffic. But we made it with no dings or scratches, I’m pleased to say.

Over the distance I drove in Ireland, I think the worst driver behaviour I saw was a woman going through a roundabout a bit quick. Speed limits were mostly observed and traffic kept left.

Contrast this with the 50km drive home from Auckland Airport where I experienced tailgating, speeding (past me), slow traffic in the “fast lane” not pulling over, no headlights on (at night: several cars and one large truck) and an idiot diving from the “fast lane” across three lanes in front of a truck to get to an off-ramp.

I despair of NZ drivers!!

Wellington Council are asking to be rinsed

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Politicians are generally dead-set useless, and it seems the capital has more than most cities.

Just when you thought it was safe to put your foot down, a 30kmh speed limit for Wellington’s central city is back on the agenda.

Wellington city councillors will consider plans this week to introduce the limit across the entire?central city, roughly 18 months after they tossed out a similar proposal?by a single vote.

The city’s Golden Mile, which?includes?Lambton Quay, Willis St, Manners St and Courtenay?Place, has had a 30kmh limit since 2010, but this proposal would spread the net wider.

Boundaries are yet to be drawn up, but last time it was up for discussion?the plan was for a reduced limit as far north as Molesworth St, as far south as?Vivian St, as far east as Cambridge Terrace and as far west as The Terrace. ? Read more »

YTD road toll highest in 6 years after changes to alcohol and speed enforcements

There is some ‘splaining to do after the road toll hits a six-year high.

The first two months of the year have been a horrific time on the roads, with deaths well up on the same time last year.

A total of 63 people were confirmed dead?from?53?different fatal crashes ??an average of almost one a day ??in January and February.

It’s the deadliest start to the year since 2010, when 68 people died during the same months.

Waikato was by far the worst-hit area so far this year, with 16 people confirmed dead from crashes in the region.

New Zealand Transport Agency data showed in?both Auckland and the combined Gisborne-Hawke’s Bay region, seven?people died in the first 60 days of this year.

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That didn’t last long – she said something stupid again

Sue Moroney must be making a bid for leadership or something because she is in the news a lot at the moment.

I’ve slated her for her wrong statistics, and praised her despite her rank hypocrisy over the reduced drink-driving limit.

But I can’t let her get away with her latest?stupidity.

Ms Moroney said she was driving between Hamilton and Tauranga on the weekend and saw a dangerous driver ignored by a police car, which pulled up somebody else on a minor infringement.

I think the focus should go on the people who are well past the drinking limit, and well past the speeding limit as well.

“What we need to do is to make sure that the police aren’t spending their time or resources pulling up people who are going two or three kilometres over the speed limit, while the dangerous driver continues on the road.”

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Whaleoil’s George vs Herald’s Heather

Heather:

I jumped off the plane at 6am last Saturday from a holiday overseas.

I won’t say where I was because if I do you’ll Google the road toll in that country and my argument will crumble in a jumble of terrible statistics.

But trust me. I think I’m on to something here. In my Mysterious Offshore Destination, the speed limit is 120km/h .

Some of the cars on that country’s roads can handle that speed limit, some of the cars can reach that speed faster than you can read this sentence, but some of the cars can’t get there without shaking off their wing mirrors.

Inevitably, I found myself zooming down a state highway at the top speed and closing in on a rust bucket shuddering along at 90km/h.

And then something remarkable happened.

The slower car in front pulled on to the shoulder to let me past. Then I copied what I’d seen other motorists in that country do. After I passed, I flicked my hazard lights to say thank you. The other driver flicked their headlights to acknowledge me.

And that’s how I spent the rest of my time behind the wheel: flicking lights to other drivers to say either “thank you” or “you’re welcome”.

It’s because I got used to courteous driving that I found getting into my car in Auckland so frustrating.

And now, George: ? Read more »

Huge road safety improvement, or the thin edge of the revenue gathering wedge?

New Zealand’s first weather-activated road signs, on State Highway 29, are ready to go.

There are 22 signs on a 12km stretch between Waikato and Bay of Plenty, part of a two-year NZ Transport Agency trial aiming to reduce crashes on the steep and sometimes slippery road.

The signs, and four web cameras, will be linked to a weather station at the summit of the range and the transport agency will monitor conditions and adjust speeds to between 30 km/h and 100 km/h.

These speeds will be enforced by police.

From a road safety point of view, that just can’t be argued with. ? But… ? Read more »

Dr Glen Koorey is an expert. God help us

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University of Canterbury transport lecturer Dr Glen Koorey is reminding the Government of their own message around speed, as it looks to increase limits.

He says history shows that the faster you go, the bigger the mess.

“In the past when we brought the speed limit down in the early ’70s, and then we brought it back up again in the mid-’80s? we saw a drop in fatalities in the early ’70s, and then we saw an increase,” he says.

Fatalities on our roads peaked in 1973, with 843 killed. By 1980, the annual toll had dropped below 600, before rising back to almost 800 in 1987.

Since then the toll has been markedly reduced, in 2013 hitting 253, its lowest level since 1950. But there are signs the good run could already be over ? last year it rose to 293, and so far in 2015 there have been 203 fatalities, 28 ahead of this time last year. Read more »

More populist tinkering by a third term National

The government is considering raising the speed limit on a few short pieces of road.

Speed limits of 110km/h could be on the way.

Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss has revealed the Government is still considering increasing the speed limit on certain roads.

“There are potentially some roads – very high-class, Roads of National Significance – where that is possible,” Mr Foss said today.

“We are doing a bit of work in that space at the moment, no final decisions yet.

“Potentially the Transmission Gully, maybe the new Tauranga Motorway, the new road north of Auckland, the Waikato Expressway – that kind of class of road is potentially able to cope with [an increased speed limit].”

Mr Foss made his comments after being asked about an Automobile Association report that found a majority of its members wanted an increase in the open road speed limit on top-rated motorways to 110km/h.

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Driving merit points: the latest PC “everyone’s a winner” nonsense

I see a newspaper editorial is all in favour of the latest “everyone is ?winner” PC nonsense currently doing the rounds advocating for merit points for good drivers.

Nothing annoys generally well-behaved drivers quite so much as having the traffic rulebook thrown at them for a minor transgression. It offends their notion of fairness and, in the process, erodes their support for the police. The police, for their part, have little option but to issue tickets. Successive governments’ emphasis on lowering the road toll has dictated a low-tolerance approach. It is welcome, therefore, that a way around this unsatisfactory state of affairs may soon surface in the shape of merit points.

The concept will be studied in research about to be initiated by the Transport Agency. It will be part of an analysis of the impact of demerit points since their introduction 22 years ago. The research will ask if they have achieved better driver compliance, whether a merit-based system would be more effective, or whether the two should operate in tandem. Merit points would be gained for the time a motorist has been driving without receiving a ticket. Or they may operate as in Victoria, where tickets can be waived if a driver’s good record is deemed to warrant just a warning. ? Read more »

du Fresne: Police burned off goodwill with their zero tolerance scam

Karl du Fresne thinks the Police have well over stepped the mark with their zero tolerance scam run these past holidays.

In fact he says it failed.

Human nature is a perverse thing. It consistently thwarts all attempts to coerce us into behaving the way bureaucrats, politicians and assorted control freaks think we should.

Take the road toll. Since early December New Zealanders have been subjected to a ceaseless barrage of police propaganda about the futility of trying to defy speed and alcohol limits.

Stern-looking police officers have been in our faces almost daily, warning that zero tolerance would be shown to lawbreakers. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has found their lecturing increasingly tiresome and patronising.

Of course the police can claim the best possible justification for all this finger-wagging: it’s about saving lives. But what was the result? The road toll for the holiday period was more than double those of the previous two years. For the full year, the toll was up by 44 on the record low of 2013.

The figures suggest that people crash for all manner of reasons, and that the emphasis on speed and alcohol is therefore simplistic. The police focus on speed and booze because these are easy targets, and when the road toll comes down they can take the credit.

In the ideal world envisaged by ever-hopeful bureaucrats, wayward citizens can be managed much as sheep are controlled by heading dogs. But people will never be harangued into driving safely; human nature is just too contrary.

Besides, police crackdowns are only one factor in achieving a lower road toll.

Improved road design, safer cars, better-equipped emergency services and more immediate medical attention all contribute too. It would be interesting to know, for example, how many lives have been saved because of the use of helicopters to get victims promptly to hospital.

Given that their heavy-handed propaganda campaign appears to have had minimal effect, I wonder if the police will now be humble enough to sit down and review their tactics.

Read more »