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Push to extend 50km/h

The Sunday Telegraph Sunday 2 June 2002


By: ROD SMITH

HUNDREDS of NSW pedestrians would be saved from death or serious injury if the state had a mandatory urban speed limit of 50km/h, transport lobbyists claim.

The Pedestrian Council of Australia has seized on research showing that fatal and serious injuries fell by 46 per cent if default urban speed limits were 50km/h rather than the current NSW default speed of 60km/h.

"Evidence shows beyond any doubt that a significant reduction in loss of life and a substantial reduction in serious injuries could be achieved by proclaiming a 50km/h speed limit," said PCA chairman Harold Scruby.

The Roads and Traffic Authority's Dr Don Carseldine unveiled the findings at a Motor Accidents Authority seminar in Sydney.

"The 50km/h urban speed limit has a great potential for reducing the number and severity of pedestrian crashes," Dr Carseldine said.

The research from Victoria, where there has been a 50km/h default limit since January 2001, also found that crashes involving pedestrians fell by 22.2 per cent. There was also a 13.3 per cent reduction in crashes on 50km/h roads.

Mr Scruby said while NSW had led the way by being the first state in Australia to undertake a trial of 50km/h urban zones, it had fallen behind by relying on local councils to request the limits.

But Transport Minister Carl Scully defended NSW's policy.

"I've deliberately ensured that the 50km/h zones are done in a way that brings community support for it by working with local councils," Mr Scully said.

"In Victoria, where they've made 50km/h the default urban speed limit with the stroke of a pen, there is considerable confusion about the speed. I think it's far more effective the way we've done it, incrementally with councils, and brought the community along with us."

He said most areas in the state now had a 50km/h urban default speed limit with signage and road paintwork clearly showing the speed.

"As a result, a lot more motorists recognise and support the 50km/h zones rather than me making it the law with the stroke of a pen here in Macquarie Street," Mr Scully said.
Download MAA Pedestrian Seminar 50 kmh Carseldine Report (pdf)
See also PCA Media Release 26 May 2002