More 30km/h speed limits needed says road safety charity

Road safety charity Brake is today welcoming the news that Wellington City Council will consider plans to introduce a 30km/h limit across the central city, and congratulating the Green Party on calling for 30km/h limits outside all urban schools.

But the charity says 30km/h limits are needed outside all schools and in more communities to help create safer, more liveable streets.

Brake supported the previous proposal for Wellington to extend the existing 30km/h limit along the Golden Mile to cover an additional 64 streets in the CBD. The proposal recognised the high numbers of pedestrians and cyclists using the CBD and that more needs to be done to ensure their safety.

The charity is also supporting the Green Party's calls to change the default limit outside urban schools to 30km/h, rather than the existing process that councils and schools have to go through to try and change the existing default limit to a lower one.

Lower speed limits help to reduce the risk of death and serious injury to people on foot and bicycle. Drivers have a much better chance of stopping in time if a pedestrian or cyclist makes a mistake, and if a crash occurs, the chance of survival is much higher. At 30km/h, if a pedestrian is hit by a car they have a 90% chance of survival, at 50km/h their chance of survival is just 50%.

Having 30km/h speed limits in communities have been proven to be effective in protecting vulnerable road users in other countries and are becoming increasingly popular overseas, particularly in Europe. They don't make a big difference to travel times for drivers, and have been shown to help increase the number of people who walk and cycle in their community, providing environmental and health benefits as well as improvements to safety.

Caroline Perry, Brake's NZ director says: "We congratulate both Wellington City Council and the Green Party on recognising the benefits that 30km/h limits have. We would wholeheartedly welcome more 30km/h streets in Wellington and urge them to follow in the recent footsteps of Christchurch in making the CBD 30km/h. Slower speeds outside schools are essential to protect our children and young people on their way to and from school and we are calling for 30km/h limits outside all schools.

"Research shows that 30km/h limits reduce the number of deaths and injuries and result in an increase in the number of people walking and cycling in those areas. We need to recognise that 30km/h limits have safety, environmental and health benefits, and with our current terrible statistics for road deaths and injuries, climate change, and obesity, introducing more 30km/h limits is a win all-round. We know fears about fast traffic prevent many adults and children from reaping the benefits of cycling and walking, so need more measures like this which both improve safety and encourage active travel."

Speed facts:

  • If hit at 30km/h, a pedestrian has a 90% chance of survival. If hit at 50km/h, they only have a 50% chance.
  • Being hit at 30km/h is roughly the same impact as falling from the first floor window of a building. At 50km/h it's roughly the same impact as falling from the fourth floor.
  • At 30km/h, your stopping distance is approx. 11 metres, at 50km/h it's approx. 24 metres.
  • It's estimated that for every 2km/h drop in speeds, crash rates fall by an average of 5%.

Read our advice on speed.