Pedestrian Council of Australia
Safety – Amenity – Access – Health



JOINT Media Release

Thursday 2 November 2006


Letter to Chief Minister Brings Swift Action – Many Lives Will Be Saved


On 25 July 2006, the RACS and PCA wrote to the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, the Hon Clare Martin asking her to urgently introduce Speed Limits and Demerit Points in the NT, to bring it line with the rest of Australia.  A copy of that letter is attached.


Today, to her credit, the Chief Minister has announced a wide ranging package of laws and penalties, including Speed Limits and Demerit Points for the NT.  A copy of her Media Release is also attached.


Dr Robert Atkinson, Chair of the RACS Road Trauma Advisory Committee and Dr Paddy Bade, NT RACS Road Trauma Consultant said:  “While we would have preferred a blanket limit of 110 kmh, like the rest of Australia, we understand political reality and the need for some compromise.  The 130 kmh limit will apply to 4 highways, while the rest of the NT will have a maximum speed limit of 110 kmh.  We will however continue to press for the blanket 110 kmh limit.”


The Chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, Harold Scruby said: "The Demerit Point system is excellent.  It saves lives.  It does not favour the rich.  It was designed to create balance, fairness and consistency and get bad drivers off the road.  The doubling of many of the penalties will also act as an incentive for all Territorians to drive within the law.  Up until now, NT has had the highest annual death toll per hundred thousand in the OECD nations (over 27), compared with the rest of Australia which is now, on average, below 8 deaths per hundred thousand.  The position was simply untenable.  We congratulate the Chief Minister and the NT Government and can guarantee that these new interventions, if properly enforced, will save countless lives and limbs and serve to bring the NT road toll in line with the national average.”


Contact:  Harold Scruby      (0418) 110-011
Contact:  Rob Atkinson        (0419) 772-474

Contact:  Paddy Bade          (0419) 969-776

Copy of Clare Martin's flyer with details of new rules and penalties

The Age - Wednesday 25 October 2006
Road safety drive to set limits on speed-loving Territorians
The last bastion of speed-unrestricted roads in Australia is under threat,

Where can you speed past a police car as fast as you like? Where can you run a red light and get away with it? Where can you drink and drive and still keep your licence even though you repeatedly get caught exceeding .05?

Where else but the Northern Territory, one of the few places in the world where there is no speed limit on open roads.

Most drivers you speak to in pubs here will tell you that having the slackest road laws in the country is part of the uniqueness of living at the edge of the vast outback.

But they are in for a shock. A study released yesterday shows Territorians are at greater risk of being killed in a road crash than people in the rest of the developed world. Per capita, there are three times the number of road deaths in the NT than in the rest of Australia.

Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin, who admits she likes to drive at up to 130 km/h, says her Government will not back away from recommendations that include imposing a 110 km/h speed limit.

"We have a shocking and appalling record," Ms Martin said. "We do need to change the rules and we need to change the culture."

Territory drivers have mounted a campaign to protect what they claim is their right to travel at whatever speed they like on open roads.

They are also protesting at the almost certain introduction of a demerit point system similar to those in place elsewhere.

Their publicity unit ( says taking away unique driving will bring down the Government.

But a NT Road Safety Taskforce, set up eight months ago, has given the Government overwhelming evidence to back 21 recommendations to overhaul NT traffic laws.
Its report reveals that one person is killed and nine seriously hurt on the roads every week, costing the NT $210 million a year. It also reveals that:

  • 48 per cent of NT fatal crashes are alcohol-related.
  • One driver in every 42 tested in the NT is over .05, compared with one in 314 in Victoria.
  • 28 per cent of all drink-drivers are repeat offenders. (Drivers caught with readings between .05 and .08 receive only a $100 infringement notice and keep their licences no matter how many times they are caught.)
  • The NT has Australia's highest use of cannabis, amphetamines and opiates but police have no powers to test drivers for drugs.
  • Road deaths fell by 37 per cent on a highway where a 110 km/h limit was imposed in 2001. Serious injuries fell 44 per cent.
  • The NT has the lowest traffic fines in the country.
  • Half those killed in NT crashes were not wearing seat belts.
  • Most NT crashes are single-vehicle accidents, with fatigue a factor in up to 30 per cent of fatal crashes.
  • In 2005, 4332 drivers were caught more than once for speeding. The worst offender received 24 fines in one year.

Ms Martin said she felt sick when she saw statistics showing that drivers in Darwin were chronic runners of red lights.

At 11 intersections in the city, 2613 drivers ran red lights in 24 hours, despite the presence of metal boxes for cameras. Tropical heat and bugs such as cockroaches made cameras unworkable.

World limits

  • Australia: States have a speed limit of 110 km/h. The ACT has a 100 km/h limit. The NT has no top limit.
  • Germany: No national speed limit on autobahns; advisory speed limit of 130 km/h.
  • Italy: 130 km/h; 150 km/h limits on newer autostradas.
  • Japan: 100 km/h limit on national highways.
  • New Zealand: Open road limit 100 km/h.
  • US: 105-130 km/h on rural interstate highways.

© This work is copyright and is reproduced under licence from John Fairfax Holdings Limited

The Australian - Tuesday 2 January 2006

Police slow to act on speed limits

DESPITE the fanfare surrounding a law banning "leadfoots" from driving as fast as they like in the Northern Territory yesterday, traffic police in Alice Springs did not come on duty until 5pm - and then suspended patrols to attend a fatal motor accident south of the city.
Police in Darwin publicly insisted a 12-strong traffic unit was enforcing the new limits, although they were unable to provide details of radar traps or other operations when asked.

No motorists were stopped and charged under the new laws yesterday.

The Territory, until yesterday one of the few places in the world to allow motorists to drive at any speed on main highways, has finally bowed to the pressure to introduce speed limits in an attempt to reduce the number of those killed on the roads.

Under the new limits, drivers in the Territory must keep to under 130km/h on the Stuart, Arnhem, Victoria and Barkly highways, and under 110 km/h on all other roads outside built-up areas.

The limits have been introduced in response to a report released in October that put the annual road toll in the Northern Territory at three times the national average on a per capita basis.

Forty-four people were killed in motor accidents in 2006, down from 55 the year before, figures that police Superintendent of Road Safety Bob Rennie said had left a lot of people "pretty shook up".

"We haven't had any fatalities in the Christmas and New Year period but people are not to be complacent, we still have a long way to go," Superintendent Rennie said.."

Under the rule changes, fines for speeding have doubled and a $500 fine has been introduced for exceeding the speed limit by more than 45km/h.

Having introduced the changes and championed their role in reducing road deaths, Chief Minister Clare Martin will now have to face responsibility at the ballot box for their imposition.

The decision has inflamed passions across the Territory, where many residents who drive regularly across the vast highway networks maintain most accidents are caused by alcohol.

Additional reporting: AAP

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