Brake and Victim Support submission on the Auckland speed limits bylaw 2019

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.

About Victim Support

Victim Support is a non-government organisation (NGO) that has been offering practical and emotional support to victims of crime and trauma for more than 30 years. Victim Support offers a free 24/7 service throughout the country. The model of support offered utilises both the expertise of paid staff and highly trained volunteer Support Workers. Victim Support supported 3488 people nationwide following vehicle collisions in the 2017/18 financial year.

Brake's and Victim Support's response to the proposed Bylaw

Brake and Victim Support strongly support the proposed Bylaw and lowering of speed limits to reduce road deaths and injuries in the Auckland region. Both charities also support Auckland Transport's move towards a wider Vision Zero approach to improving road safety. [1] 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.

Victim Support supported 3488 people nationwide following vehicle collisions in the 2017/18 financial year - 2347 of these after a fatal vehicle collision. Almost one in ten victims we support are direct or indirect victims of road trauma, and a significant proportion are from the Auckland district. As our data suggests, road trauma creates a far-reaching ripple effect throughout the community. We don't just support the families of those killed in road crashes, and those injured and their families, but also the witnesses, members of the public who were first on the scene, friends, colleagues, neighbours, and community groups who are traumatised by these events. We believe Auckland Transport could set an example for the rest of the country with its road safety initiatives, and lead the way in making an urgent and vital contribution to reducing the number of victims impacted by road trauma nationwide.

Auckland streets need to be safe for everyone, regardless of their mode of transport, age or socio-economic area. Children and young people, older people, and those living in economically poorer areas are disproportionately represented in road death and injury statistics. Auckland also has a high rate of pedestrian and cyclist deaths compared to many other developed countries. [2] These deaths and serious injuries are largely preventable. Brake would like to see a broader framework for safe and healthy streets in Auckland 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.

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. [3]

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. Safe speeds is a key part of that. By implementing 30km/h limits in the CBD and town centres, and reducing speeds on high-risk rural roads, we can 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.

There are examples from cities all over the world who are implementing 30km/h limits to save lives and make more liveable communities. In these cities, lower speed limits are helping to reduce deaths and serious injuries, encourage more people to walk, cycle and use public transport and improve traffic flow.

Brake's opinion is that the current default 50km/h limit is too high on many of our roads. A limit of 30km/h in certain areas including outside schools and early education centres, hospitals, playgrounds/parks, residential areas, shopping centres and town/city centres is more appropriate.

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. [4]

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. [5]

Brake's own surveys have shown that a high number (60%) of people are concerned about traffic being too fast in their own community. [6] Lower speeds in communities help enable children and families to walk and cycle to school and local shops.

Lower speeds also result in a decrease in fuel use and fewer emissions and pollutants, resulting in cleaner, greener and more liveable communities. Furthermore, in urban areas, increases in travel time due to lower speed limits are negligible. [7]

Conclusions and recommendations

  • Brake and Victim Support support the reduction in speed limit for the city centre as proposed under the draft Speed Limits Bylaw 2019.
  • Brake Victim Support support the reduction in speed limits in town centres as proposed under the draft Speed Limits Bylaw 2019.
  • Brake Victim Support support the reduction in speed limits on rural roads as proposed under the draft Speed Limits Bylaw 2019.
  • Brake and Victim Support recommend extending the reduction in speed limits to 30km/h to include all town centres, and all schools and Early Childhood Education centres, to provide greater protection for children.
  • Brake and Victim Support also recommend prioritising safety for active transport modes through the implementation of the safe speeds recommended in the Roads and Streets Framework for arterial, collector and local streets across Auckland. [8] It is also important to ensure the design speed of roads is consistent with the reduced speed limits.

[1] Auckland Transport. Vision Zero. Available from: https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/safe-speeds-programme/vision-zero. Accessed 26 March 2019.
[2] International Transport Forum. “Safer City Streets, A global road safety benchmark, Working Document prepared to support 2nd meeting of the Safer City Streets Network”. ITF, 2017
[3] International Traffic Data and Analysis Group. “Speed and Crash Risk: Research report”. Paris: International Transport Forum, 2018.
[4] Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015, WHO, 2015
[5] Traffic at 30mph is too fast for children’s visual capabilities, University of Royal Holloway London, 2010
[6] Family road safety survey (370 respondents), Brake, 2017
[7] Austroads (2005) Balance between Harm Reduction and Mobility in Setting Speed Limits: A Feasibility Study. Austroads Publication No. AP-R272/05.
[8] Auckland Transport (2017). Roads & Streets Framework. Available from: https://at.govt.nz/media/1976084/roads-and-streets-framework-webcompressed.pdf.

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