Increasing the speed limit could kill 2



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Last year the NSW government touted the possibility of increasing the speed limit on parts of the Hume and Pacific highways in New South Wales and commencing research into that prospect for roads that were consistent with European standards. According to an ABC News report of September 2015, there were only two roads in NSW that were close to the grade separation of the European standard: The M1 between Sydney and Newcastle and the F5 between Sydney and Goulburn.

The NSW Minister for Roads Mr Duncan Gay needs to have a good look at what is already happening in particular on the road between Sydney and Newcastle. Having regularly travelled both the both the F5 and the M1, the driving behaviour on both roads is different. In part this is because the M1 is a more of a dash, particularly when people are travelling to and from work, while the Sydney Goulburn and beyond is longer more sedate drive, if it can be described in those terms.

There is no need to increase the speed limit on the M1 because at times despite a police presence along the freeway, on many occasions the speed limit is already being exceeded by drivers of both commercial and private vehicles. It seems that somehow the drivers know where and when the police are about. I now find this particular journey quite harrowing at times, because of the increased vigilance required and even look forward to getting to Pennant Hills Road coming from the Newcastle direction to get my blood pressure down. (At least until I get frustrated by the crawl along this road).

The problems of speed along the M1 are exacerbated by the road sometimes being three lanes and other times two lanes, having to slow down for semi-trailers overtaking each other and other slower traffic which cause the speedsters to overtake on the left or the right and swerve back into whatever lane takes their fancy.

Mr Duncan should take a trip to Europe and see what a straight, separated road looks like. Such European roads do not have much in common with the bendy sometimes narrower road along the M1. There are already quite a number of accidents and delays on the M1 due to accidents and with Winter upon us I fear that sooner or later there will be a major disaster on this road.

It may be that I am just getting older, but this stretch of road does not need an increase in the speed limit. I wonder whether other road users feel the same about this road and roads in other parts of Australia and New Zealand.

What do you think? Do you think speed limits should be decreased or increased in your area?

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Michael Whitehead

Michael Whitehead attended uni as a mature age student in his 50s, completing multiple postgraduate degrees in health science and psychology. He has a canoe, a pushbike, a bodyboard, a tennis racquet and a fishing rod. He uses them all. Michael is now enjoying retirement after a wide range of careers, most recently as Manager of a Family Support Service.

  1. I agree that there is no need for an increase in speed limits.
    Having over the past few years travelled over most of Australia by road I have had the opportunity to observe drivers both rural and urban. It pains me to say because I am a Victorian but Victoria has the worst drivers in all of Australia and some of the others are not far behind.
    I have seen people who could not handle their vehicles competently at the current speed limit on numerous occasions. I have seen people exceed the speed limit to overtake then drop back to 5 – 10 ks under. I have had people pass me while I was doing the 100 k limit doing what I estimated to be at least 130.
    In my opinion if we are really interested in lowering the number of people killed on our roads we should be going all out to enforce our current speed limits. More speed cameras, heavier fines and instant loss of licence for exceeding the limit by 10 ks or more.

  2. Pity that the M1 and F3 safety record isn’t published. Freeways vastly improve safety by eliminating opposing traffic, crossing traffic, sharp bends, and roadside hazards. For example, in 2014, German autobahns carried 31% of motorized road traffic while accounting for 11% of traffic deaths. The autobahn fatality rate of 1.6 deaths per billion-travel-kilometers compared quite favorably with the 4.6 rate on urban streets and 6.5 rate on rural roads. Legalizing higher speeds on the M1 and F5 is quite feasible.

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