Safer Speed Areas

In February 2014 Council resolved to not introduce any additional speed limit change proposals beyond the areas that were brought in on 1 March 2014, until a review of the Speed Management Policy is completed.  This review will make use of emerging guidance being developed at a national level on road classification and speed limits. More information on the national Safe Speeds Programme, including updates on the progress of the national speed management programme, is available on Safer Journeys.

Managing speed is crucial to achieving reducing the number and severity of crashes occuring on our local urban roads because the outcome of all crashes is strongly influenced by the impact speed. To put it simply, the higher the speed the greater the likelihood of serious injury or death in a crash.

This graph shows the severity of pedestrian/vehicle crashes, and their relationship to the speed of the vehicle.

Safer Speeds.jpg 
 

Safer Speed Areas - a short history

In the 2011/12 financial year Hamilton City Council introduced Safer Speed Areas in eight areas of the city as part of the first stage of a national road safety initiative aimed at making urban streets safer.

Road safety experts recognise that a 50km/h speed limit is generally too high for residential neighbourhoods, towns and city centres where there are many people using the road for different purposes.

The national Safer Journeys demonstration project aims to reduce the number and severity of crashes occurring on urban roads by establishing "Safer Speed" residential areas in which vehicles travel at appropriate speeds rather than a universal 50 km/h. 

Hamilton City Council was amongst the first councils looking to establish Safer Speed Areas as part of the national demonstration initiative. For more information visit the Safer Speed Areas website.

Find out how 2012's Safer Speed Areas performed (PDF, 1.27MB).

Frequently asked questions

Why are you doing this?

Hamilton City Council gets regular requests from residents around the city for speed reductions on residential streets; sometimes there have been more than 100 requests at one time. Dealing with these requests as they come in results in an ad-hoc approach to speed and uncertainty to drivers and residents. Council sees Safer Speed Areas as a long-term solution to a long-term problem.

Crashes at speeds of more than 40km/h have a much higher risk of killing or injuring someone. A child or other pedestrian hit by a vehicle travelling at 40km/h has a 40 per cent chance of fatality. However, if a child or other pedestrian is hit by a vehicle travelling at 50km/h the risk of fatality increases to more than 80 per cent.

How do you decide which roads to include in a Safer Speed Area?

Streets that form a Safer Speed Area are those that are considered either Collector or Local Residential streets as defined by the Hamilton City Council’s District Plan.  A map of the current road hierarchy can be found at on Map 19 of the Operative District Plan Maps.

Existing Safer Speed Areas:

  • Have a number of roads that have been identified as having a high crash rate or injury rate; and/or
  • Are close to schools, and local residents have expressed concerns about the current speed limit.

To work out which areas are in need of having their speed limit lowered Council looks at the number of injury-causing crashes that have occurred over the last 10 years in each street (Collective Risk) and also the likelihood of an individual driver or rider being involved in an injury causing crash while using that road (Personal Risk).  These areas are then ranked in order.

Council also includes in the calculations previous requests for ‘’traffic calming’’ from residents and whether or not there have been historic traffic calming (ie speed humps) that have been installed around the area reflecting residents’ historic concerns.

For example, in the Dinsdale Road Safer Speed Area there were 19 injury crashes in the 10 years prior to the 40km/h being installed.

How do the proposed areas become adopted?

Once the areas have been selected Council goes out for consultation with the community on whether these areas should have their speed limits reduced.  This proposal forms part of a proposed amendment to the Hamilton City Speed Limit Bylaw (which sets all the speed limits across the city).

It is really important that we get input from the community so we encourage people to make a submission. Letters are sent to every resident in the proposed Safer Speed Areas, it is advertised in the local paper and online. After the submissions close hearings are held and Council considers all the submissions to help make a decision.

How does Council let people know about the changes?

To make sure lower speed limits work it is important that motorists are aware of the changes in speed limits. Signs are placed at the entrances to each Safer Speed Area both on posts and, in some cases, painted on the road itself. Large billboards are also used to remind drivers as they drive through the areas.  Physical works – like landscaping and planting, or raised crossing etc – assist with the recognition of the change in speed limits.  We run a Safer Speed Area communications plan in the lead up to and during the implementation for the speed limit changes. This includes letters explaining the change to local residents.

We also undertake some advertising to remind people why Safer Speed Areas are important. These can be on radio, bus backs, billboards, newspaper and online.

When were the first Safer Speed Areas established in the city?

The first ones were set up in the 2011-12 year, mainly around schools and areas with high pedestrian counts.

Does Council measure the success rate of Safer Speed Areas?

By proposing to apply a 40km/h restriction and supporting this with physical changes where appropriate, Council is aiming to not only reduce the fatalities and injuries caused by crashes in these areas but the number of crashes that occur. 

Early results indicate that overall there appears to be a reduction in the number of all crashes within the original Safer Speed Areas. They were averaging 14 crashes per year, and in the first year after, nine crashes occurred.

Demonstration projects Council undertook in 2011 showed a decrease in speed limit in Safer Speed Areas and an increase in residents feeling of safety, driver courtesy and a reduction in the amount of cars using local roads as a rat run to other areas of the city. Council would expect to see a similar thing happening in other areas.

Does the Council profit from any ticketing within Safer Speed Areas by Police?

No. Any reference to “revenue-gathering’’ is incorrect. Council does not have any financial gain through enforcement of Safer Speed Areas, and prefers education and community engagement rather than enforcement to make the city’s streets safer. The city council's parking wardens have no legal authority to issue tickets for speeding offences.

Are you installing speed humps, chicanes and the like? These are costly to install and they ruin a car's shock absorbers.

In order for Safer Speed Areas to work well we need to ensure that vehicles are travelling at or around 40km/h. Many of the areas being considered have already been traffic calmed, reducing speeds to 40km/h already. We will not be doing any more engineering in those areas. Some traffic calming and safety improvements may be required in other areas but these changes will not include speed humps.  Our focus is on providing improved pedestrian facilities in the area and addressing existing safety concerns.

How do you deal with drivers who continually break the law on our streets?

This is not the point of the “40km/h safer speed zone” concept – the point is to help create a culture of ‘’sharing the streets”, where pedestrians, cyclists, kids playing and even family pets have a safer and friendlier community environment. If drivers are breaking the law on your street then please contact the NZ Police.

I have some ideas on how 40km/h Safer Speed Areas can be improved. How can I place my feedback?

That’s great, we would love to hear your ideas. Please contact us at cityinfrastructure@hcc.govt.nz

Does Council plan to increase speed limits on other streets?

Council adopted a Speed Management Policy in November 2012 and this outlines the long-term vision for speed limits throughout Hamilton. The Speed Management Policy can be found here.

Each change will have to be carefully considered and possibly some changes to the road environment may need to happen before any speed limit is increased to ensure that the safety of all road users is maintained.

Page reviewed: 03 Nov 2014 3:12pm