Thousands of people have signed a petition calling for traffic bosses to scrap plans to lower speed limits.
New Zealand Transport Agency has proposed that the speed limit between Blenheim and Nelson be slashed to 80kmh, estimating it will add just nine extra minutes to the travel time.
They are also proposing to lower a stretch of road between Atawhai and Wakapuaka from 80kmh to 60kmh.
But fed-up motorists have been quick to hit back, calling for the idea to be ditched.
Nelson driver Stephanie Drewery started the online petition last week, which has been signed almost 7000 times.
She says the speed limit was increased in the first place as cars became safer.
“The New Zealand speed limit has been 100kmh since the early 1980s.
“The upper limit was set at an increased level because the roads were all tar sealed with a centre line and cars had decent suspension and air bags.
“Now a majority of mountain roads have road edge barriers, passing lanes and wider cut corners,” she says.
Following a series of public meetings in Nelson and Marlborough earlier this year, NZTA heard from people who attended that speed limits needed to be cut.
But cutting limits is not the answer, says Stephanie.
“Why are the NZTA and the police so insistent on reducing speed limits on safer roads being driven with safer cars?”
Between 2009 and 2018, 20 people died and 92 were seriously injured in crashes on State Highway 6 between Blenheim and Nelson.
Nineteen of these deaths were on 100kmh stretches of SH6 and 87 of those seriously injured were on the open road or 100kmh sections of SH6.
However, NZTA’s director of regional relationships Jim Harland says cutting the limit would help prevent deaths and serious injuries.
he says. “It’s popular with cyclists, busy with freight and commuters, and there are school children and others crossing the road in 100km/hour environments.”
The story has become one of the most contentious issues posted to the Nelson Weekly Facebook page, garnering more than 600 comments.
Nelson woman Diane Chandler says it will cause frustration.
“Millions was spent on the Rai Saddle alignment and now it’s going to be reduced speed? Going to cause frustration but won’t stop the idiots.
“Why not target those speeding, fatigue drivers, and those driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs first. But reducing speed isn’t going to address any of that,” she says.
Shaun Duff says it’s not the speed limit that’s the problem, “its bad drivers, bad judgments on intersections and not understanding the road rules reducing the speed will not solve the problem”.
NZTA’s Jim Harland has called for those signing the petition to take part in the decision process.
The petition will be considered if it is presented on time, within the consultation period, which is 15 October to 12 November.
Any changes to the speed limits could be in place by the end of the year.
To add a submission visit nzta.govt.nz/blenheim-nelson-speed-review or pick up a submission form at your local council office or library or call 0800444449 and the Transport Agency will send you one. Alternatively, email: [email protected]