People travelling between Christchurch and Akaroa will have a safer speed environment from early next month.
Safer speed limits will be in place on the Christchurch to Akaroa highway (SH73 and 75) from 2 September. The new speed limits were announced earlier this year by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and Christchurch City Council.
As well as the Akaroa highway, SH74 in Lyttelton and some Banks Peninsula side roads are included in the new safer speeds changes.
The changes include more consistent speeds through Halswell, 60km/h over the Hilltop and 50km/h through Little River to just past Wairewa Marae. High-risk 100km/h sections of SH75 will reduce to 80km/h.
Local agencies are welcoming the changes, which are designed to help prevent people being killed and seriously injured in road crashes.
Waka Kotahi Director Regional Relationships James Caygill is expecting Canterbury will experience similar relief as Marlborough and Tasman Districts, where deaths and serious injuries in road crashes on SH6 have significantly reduced since speeds were lowered in 2020.
“I’ve driven to Akaroa many times and while it does feel different travelling at the new speeds, if around five minutes is the difference between someone being killed or seriously injured, then bring it on,'' Mr Caygill says.
Christchurch City Council Transport Operations Manager Stephen Wright says lowering speed limits recognises that communities are changing. There are more people about on the road – children getting to and from school, people on bikes, driving, riding motorcycles, cycling or walking.
“Safe and appropriate speed limits mean everyone gets to enjoy the road environment and get to where they’re going safely,'' he says.
NZ Police Senior Sergeant Mike Jones, from Canterbury Road Policing, says police will be in the area when the new speeds come into effect and in the weeks following. There will also be electronic signs to help remind drivers about the speed limit changes for the first couple of weeks.
“As well as being more appropriate for the roadside conditions and environment, there are lots of benefits of driving at 80km/h. You have 20 per cent more time to react, your stopping distance is 30 per cent shorter and your chance of surviving a crash is 75 per cent - whereas at 100km/h it is 10 per cent. Plus, a reduction in speed adds an extra song to the journey.”
Christchurch Emergency Department Clinical Director Mark Gilbert says his team has to deal with the devastation caused by road crashes.
“This is always difficult for the team – but not as difficult as it is for families of loved ones who are injured or killed. People dying or coming to terms with life-altering injuries is really sad, especially when it is preventable.
“Safer speed limits mean fewer crashes and should they be involved in a crash, less impact on people’s bodies. The flow-on effect is a reduced impact on whanau and friends. There is also reduced impact on the medical and social services who support victims and their families,” Dr Gilbert says.
Between 2011-2020 there were 747 crashes between Christchurch and Akaroa. Nine people were killed and 74 others were seriously injured, many facing lengthy rehabilitation.
Christchurch to Akaroa is in the top ten per cent of roads where we can make the biggest difference in reducing the numbers of people being killed or seriously injured. There are a number of safety issues, many of which were raised by the community during public consultation.
As well as safer speed limits, Waka Kotahi is taking steps to support a safer environment for everyone using this road, including: