The speed limit between Nelson and Blenheim will be reduced across the board next month in a move by Waka Kotahi NZTA to make the stretch of road safer.
The decision to lower almost all speed limits along the highway comes almost a year after consultation closed on the proposal.
NZTA says it will add 9 minutes to the trip between the two cities.
More than 1100 submissions were made from those both in support and against the changes which will see all 100kmh zones between Trafalgar St, Nelson and Rai Valley lowered to 80kmh from December 18.
The current 80kmh through Atawhai will lower to 60kmh.
Nick Marer, on behalf of 45 Ducati Owners Club Nelson members, submitted against most of the proposed reductions.
He says the changes are more like “putting an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff ” rather than starting at the top with better driver training.
“I get where NZTA are coming from and people may think I’m saying it’s ok for people to die. Well, no-one’s saying that, but I believe there’s a better way.”
Nick firmly believes there should be ongoing training on offer for drivers as there is for motorcyclists.
“People need to understand the consequences of their actions. So many people are unaware of time, space, motion and distance. They pass in places that are unsafe and that puts those that are slightly more vulnerable road users at a higher risk.”
He believes NZTA are swapping out one issue for another.
“They are saying speed is a major issue, but now driver frustration will be an issue.”
Truck driver Justin Bradford says he shares the concerns that the reductions will force more “stupid overtaking” from frustrated drivers.
“Cars are now going to be going the same speed as what we are allowed to do in the trucks, so I think they will be taking any little gap they can to get past.”
He says there needs to be more passing bays along the stretch of road – particularly on the Nelson side of the Whangamoa.
“Most of the passing bays on this side have been re-labelled ‘stopping bays’ so we won’t use them because if there’s a line of traffic we have to stop and getting going again is quite difficult. We would be pulling out doing 10- 15kmh trying to build up speed which is even more dangerous.”
Cawthron Institute chief executive Charles Eason is all for the speed lowering around an intersection he says they have been working with NZTA on long before the speed review was on the table.
“From our perspective we feel very good about it, and it’s not a moment too soon.”
He says they felt so strongly about the need for safer speeds at the Glen/SH6 intersection that Cawthron offered to help fund ‘Slow Down’ signage, which was understood to cost around $30,000.
One person who submitted in support of the reductions spoke of two instances where their father was hit head on by a car that had crossed the centre line while travelling towards Nelson from Rai Valley.
The second crash left the man in hospital for “months” and the submitter says he still suffers a disability.
“I am in complete agreement with the NZTA, proposing new speed limits between Blenheim and Nelson. As you say in your document, the extra travel time from Blenheim to Nelson is only 9 minutes. Nine minutes is nothing when the risk of collision, and injury or death, is reduced,” they said.
All speed reductions will come into effect on December 18.