Rural speed cut plan dumped

Written By miftah nugraha on Senin, 19 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

The State Government has dropped plans for a blanket speed limit reduction from 100km/h to 90km/h on rural roads. Picture JAMES KERR

THE State Government's backflip on a plan to reduce rural road speed limits to 90km/h has been welcomed by the RACT.

Infrastructure Minister David O'Byrne today announced the default limit would not be dropped from 100km/h, despite his earlier argument that the cut would save lives.

Mr O'Byrne said an education campaign would be continued instead.

The decision pre-empts a Legislative Council inquiry into the speed-cut plan.

"While the original recommendation from the Road Safety Advisory Council was for a blanket reduction, instead we've been working and consulting with communities about the Safer Roads Strategy and looking at roads on a case-by-case basis, using proven criteria," Mr O'Byrne said.

"It is, however, clear that overwhelmingly the community does not support a reduction in the default speed limit on our rural roads."

Mr O'Byrne said speed limits on gravel roads would still be reduced to 80km/h and the confusing "END" speed limit signs would be removed as planned later this year.

A public campaign to alert motorists to always drive to the conditions, particularly on rural roads, would start this year as planned.

"We've achieved a 33 per cent reduction in serious casualty crashes over the last five years, however too many crashes continue to occur on rural roads."

The state's peak motoring body commended the move, noting it was a "significant change to the Government's earlier intent".

When a virtual blanket rural speed limit reduction proposal was first raised by the Government in late 2010, RACT described it as a "one-size-fits-all" approach to a complex issue and called for a case-by-case assessment methodology.

RACT chief Harvey Lennon congratulated Mr O'Byrne on "refining his thinking".

"Many councils were opposed to the proposed widespread speed limit reductions, and a majority of RACT members told us in two separate surveys (2011 and 2012) that they thought a 100km/h default limit was reasonable," Mr Lennon said in a statement.

"The Government deserves credit for both listening to the community and finally adopting a practical solution.

"Rural crashes occur because of a variety of reasons.

"A reduced speed limit is not the silver bullet – but it can and should be applied sensibly, and quite appropriately, on a case-by-case basis."

"RACT members also look forward to the removal of the "END" speed limit signs as soon as possible."

So far in Tasmania this year 20 people have died on public roads, compared with 16 last year, and 155 people have been seriously injured, up from 141.

Read more in tomorrow's Mercury ...

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