A number of Australian states and territories are now trialling or planning 30km/h speed limits and zones – in a move that could hugely benefit our road toll and economy.
Western Australia, NSW and Victoria have all implemented the measure, with several other states reportedly considering trialling the low speed limit.
An article in The Conversationdeclaring low-speed streets “are about much more than road safety and increasing fine revenue”.
“By building safer streets, governments and cities around the world are creating more liveable cities,” Matthew Mclaughlin, Ben Beck, Julie Brown and Megan Sharkey wrote for the publication.
“The benefits include low crime levels, more physically active citizens, greater social connectedness, increased spending in local businesses and less pollution.”
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‘Clear’ benefits of introducing 30km/h speed zones
Research by the Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety in 2017 found that 30km/h speed limits on local residential streets could reduce our national road toll by 13 per cent.
“The evidence is very clear: the chance of a pedestrian surviving when hit by a car skyrockets when the car’s speed is reduced,” The Conversation piece read.
The chance of someone surviving being hit by a vehicle at 50km/h is only 10 per cent, according to Road Safety NSW, but jumps to 90 per cent if a pedestrian was hit by a car going at 30km/h.
“Speed is the most common contributor to road trauma – more common than alcohol, drugs and fatigue,” the group wrote.
“To reduce serious injury, 40km/h speed limits aren’t low enough. The chance of survival when hit by a car improves from 60 per cent at 40km/h to 90 per cent at 30km/h.
“Reducing speed limits to 30km/h in urban areas such as high pedestrian zones, school zones and local traffic areas is urgently needed to reduce deaths and severe injuries.”
The economic benefit, meanwhile, would be roughly $3.5 billion each year, according to the same Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety report.
While some critics claim reducing limits is simply about “revenue-raising”, The Conversation reports that “speed limits are a low-cost tool in the governments’ toolbox against road deaths”.
“Speed enforcement and street design may be needed in some cases to reduce driver speed and improve conditions for all street users,” they said.
“Enforcement works and ensures credibility, because no single solution will work alone. For best results, state and territory governments will combine multiple tools to reduce speed, such as speed limits, public education, driver training, speed enforcement and street design.”