Brake submission on Northland speed review

This response relates to the following projects:
SH10 Awanui to Kaingaroa
SH1 Moerewa to Kawakawa
SH11 Puketona to Paihia

About Brake

Brake is a road safety charity with global interests, and branches in the UK and New Zealand. It approaches road safety and sustainable travel using the Vision Zero method. That is to say, the charity considers that all deaths and injuries on roads are unacceptable, and eliminating carbon emissions from transport, which is the largest contributing carbon sector, should be approached with equal zeal. Brake's vision is a world where people can move around in ways that are safe, sustainable, healthy and fair.

Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. It does this through national campaigns, community activities, services for employers and fleet professionals, and coordination of national Road Safety Week.

Brake also cares for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. It does this by providing specialist support resources to families following a crash.

Brake's response to the speed review

Brake supports the proposals to lower speed limits on sections of these roads to reduce road deaths and injuries, however we feel that some of these speed limits need to be reduced further to provide safe streets for communities.

There is significant data and evidence to show that reducing traffic speeds is a highly effective way of reducing traffic related deaths and injuries. The risk of crashing, and of being killed or seriously injured in a crash increases exponentially to an increase in speed. The faster vehicles travel, the more frequent and severe road crashes become. [1]

Brake supports the lowering of speed limits in all three of these proposals to make these rural roads safer. Current speed limits do not match the conditions of these stretches of road, and community engagement seems to indicate that locals agree current limits are not safe. It is also important that engineering measures are considered to further improve safety.

Brake feels strongly that some of the towns and villages should be considered for further lowering of speed. Our towns and villages need to be safe for everyone, regardless of their mode of transport, age or socio-economic area. Children, young people and older people are disproportionately represented in road death and injury statistics. Communities should be able to access their local amenities like schools, playgrounds, shops and community venues, safely.

In the proposals it is noted that several communities have expressed their concern around safety:
• Kareponia is a high risk area for children due to the Kōhanga Reo crossing and school buses turning.
• Moerewa is unsafe for people walking and cycling in the local community.
• Haruru and Watea are experiencing growths in population and there are more people cycling.

Whilst those areas will all see reduced speed limits, these will still be 50km/h or even 60km/h for Haruru. Speed is an important factor in determining the outcome of a crash. People make mistakes so it's vital that our road system helps to minimise the consequences of those mistakes.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has emphasised the need for 30km/h limits, stating that in areas where 'motorised traffic mixes with pedestrians, cyclists, and moped riders, the speed limit must be under 30km/h' due to the vulnerability of these road users. [2]

This is particularly important for protecting children, who often make mistakes when using roads. Research has found that children cannot judge the speed of approaching vehicles travelling faster than 30km/h, so may believe it is safe to cross when it is not. [3]

Given the communities mentioned above have specifically talked about the safety of people walking, cycling and the vulnerability of children, Brake feels strongly that even lower limits should be considered for these areas. Lower speeds reduce the severity of crashes, saving lives and reducing the number of families who suffer the tragedy of losing a loved one on the road. In communities they also help to enable children and families to walk and cycle to local amenities such as schools, shops and playgrounds.

Road safety is both a transport and public health issue. In addition to deaths and injuries in crashes, traffic also has an impact through air and noise pollution, and people's level of physical activity.

Lower speeds result in a decrease in fuel use and fewer emissions and pollutants, resulting in cleaner, greener and more liveable communities.

More widely, Brake would like to see a broader framework for safe and healthy streets that includes a safe system for roads and safe traffic speeds, but also considers the health and environmental impacts of transport, and works to support safe and healthy mobility for all.

[1] International Traffic Data and Analysis Group. “Speed and Crash Risk: Research report”. Paris: International Transport Forum, 2018.
[2] Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015, WHO, 2015
[3] Traffic at 30mph is too fast for children’s visual capabilities, University of Royal Holloway London, 2010

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