Services > Safe Speeds
Speed related crashes are an area of high concern and identified as a continuing and increasing road safety issue across Wairarapa.
- In 2019, there were 352 road fatalities. 26% of all fatal crashes are because drivers are going too fast. Since then, we have had factors such as Covid-19 which have meant there are times where there are less drivers on the road, yet we still have skyrocketing figures that are similar in 2000 and tracking towards the same this year.
- 23% of drivers in New Zealand travel above the 100km per hour speed limit on the open road. Wairarapa is a rural area with many open roads.
Speed is one factor that we can control. Many drivers aren’t aware that they can be travelling at the speed limit and still be driving unsafely. The speed limit is the maximum legal speed that you can travel at on a road in perfect conditions. However, road conditions are rarely perfect. As a safe driver, you’ll have to look out for changes in traffic, road and weather conditions, and reduce your speed accordingly.
Stopping distances: speed and braking
The simple truth about speeding is: the faster you go, the longer it takes to stop and, if you crash, the harder the impact. Even small increases in speed could have severe consequences. If a pedestrian steps out into the path of an oncoming vehicle which is speeding the difference could be a matter of life or death.
In an emergency, the average driver takes about 1.5 seconds to react. Stopping distances increase exponentially the faster you go.
The stopping distances on the infograph are calculated based on the following assumptions:
- In an emergency the average driver takes approximately 1.5 seconds to react
- A modern vehicle with good brakes and tyres, after braking, is capable of stopping at approximately 7 m/s2.
- A dry road that is sealed and level enables good friction between the tyres and the road to help stop the vehicle sooner. Scientifically, it has a coefficient of friction of approximately 1.
- A wet road that is sealed and level has less friction between the tyres and the road which increases the stopping distance of a vehicle. Scientifically, the coefficient of friction of approximately 0.7.
The stopping distances in the graph are generic and may be influenced by a number of driver, vehicle and environmental factors:
Driving safely within speed limits
Many drivers aren’t aware that they can be travelling at the speed limit and still be driving unsafely.
The speed limit is the maximum legal speed that you can travel at on a road in perfect conditions.
However, road conditions are rarely perfect. As a safe driver, you’ll have to look out for changes in traffic, road and weather conditions, and reduce your speed accordingly.
Adjust your speed to the conditions
Traffic conditions that you might need to reduce your speed for include:
- high volumes of traffic on the road
- pedestrians, joggers and cyclists
- holiday times when there are lots of visitors on the road
- parked cars.
Road conditions you should reduce your speed for include:
- bumpy or narrow areas on the road
- wet, icy or gravel road surfaces
- signs warning of hazards such as sharp curves or a slippery surface.
Weather conditions you should reduce your speed for include:
- rain, snow and ice
- bright sunlight.
What happens when a speeding vehicle crashes?
A small change in speed can make a big difference to the outcome of a crash.
When a vehicle crashes, it undergoes a rapid change of speed. However, the occupants keep moving at the vehicle’s previous speed until they are stopped – either by hitting an object or by being restrained by a safety belt or airbag.
Human bodies are not designed to be hurled against objects at speed, and the faster the speed, the more severe the injuries.
RISK TO PEDESTRIANS
The speeds on a road impact how safe other road users feel to walk, bike, or travel with their children on that same road.
If a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle the severity of their injuries is related to the impact speed.
The international accepted speed to greatly reduce the chances of a pedestrian being killed or seriously injured is 30km/h.
The probability of a pedestrian being killed rises as impact speed increases, it approximately doubles between 30km/h and 40km/h, and doubles again from 40km/h to 50km/h. The risk to vulnerable pedestrians, such as the elderly and young children, is even higher.
School & Buses
Signs operate on 7 day cycle come on when children are most likely to be travelling to or from school, can also be activated manually during the day if required due to activity at the school.
Current locations: MDC - Lake View School, Solway School, Masterton Primary School, Fernridge School, Mauriceville School, Tinui School, Johnston Street.
ROAD WORKER SAFETY
Roadworks are necessary to build new roads and keep our existing roads safe however, roadwork sites can be dangerous. You need to take extra care when driving through roadworks, this is for your safety and the safety of the road workers who are improving our roads.
Road workers are our friends, our family, and our colleagues and work in one of the most dangerous and vulnerable workplaces you could imagine. They deserve to have a safe workplace.
For more information on safe speeds see:
- Ministry of Transport on Speed & Statistics
- Scheduled works in Wairarapa
- Waka Kotahi - Driving Safely/Speed
Winter Driving in Wairarapa & Beyond
Wairarapa is renowned for its changeable weather. You could drive from Masterton down to Pirinoa and back out to Martinborough and have 3 different sets of weather conditions... which means you should plan and prepare before you land yourself on an icy, wet or even snowbound road.
› Call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS for the latest road conditions - CHECK BEFORE YOU GO
› Dress for the conditions, carry additional warm clothes and keep a survival kit in your vehicle in case you do get stuck.
› Ensure your car is roadworthy and keep at least half a tank of fuel in your vehicle in case you get diverted onto another route or you are forced to turn back. GIVE IT A TWIRL
WHEN YOU’RE ON THE ROAD
› Drive slower than you normally would – it only takes a split second to lose control in wet or icy conditions.
› Avoid sudden braking or turning that could cause you to skid. Accelerate smoothly and brake gently, and use your highest gear when travelling uphill and your lowest downhill.
› For vehicles without anti-skid braking systems, pump the brake pedal in short rapid bursts rather than pressing long and hard to avoid skidding or sliding.
› Drive at a safe travelling distance because it takes longer to stop on slippery roads. In winter, especially in poor weather, double the two-second rule to ensure a safe distance between you and the car in front.
› When travelling in fog, rain or snow, drive with your lights dipped for increased safety.
PLAN YOUR JOURNEY
For latest winter driving conditions in your area check our links on our Roading Conditions Page or call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49)