Govt announces 110kph speed limits on selected expressways (RONS). Alex Tarrant argues this could be one of the most important announcements this election campaign as National targets Winston's "common sensers"

By Alex Tarrant

Forget Prefu, forget tax rates, forget that insurance companies are now talking about properly pricing premiums in high risk areas like Wellington.

The National-led government has just announced they will raise the speed limit to 110 kph on selected New Zealand ‘expressways’ – namely National’s Roads of National Significance, which they’ve just promised to build a bunch more of.

Interestingly, the announcement was made by Associate Transport Minister Tim Macindoe in his Ministerial capacity - the initial announcement was not a National Party election promise. The higher-profile Simon Bridges wasn’t involved (he was busy announcing a new transport app for Queenstown - although no doubt he will be asked about the new limits).

However, the National Party did release campaign material with the promise for 110kph roads shortly after Macindoe's announcment.

The move actually comes out of the government's "Safer Speeds Package" review which was set up to "modernise the approach to speed management on New Zealand roads." The prospect of 110kph zones had already been raised, with bylaw approval processes earmarked for "late 2017." The review also looked into other changes, including to the way speed limits are set on rural and open roads, and requirements for where speed limit signs are placed.

Neither of these other two work-streams were referenced by Macindoe when making the 110kph announcement. In fact, the Safer Speeds Package wasn't even referenced. Macindoe said the ability to raise the speed limit to 110kph had been made possible by the government's investment in new roads.

I would not underestimate the potential this announcement might have on the election campaign as National tries to target a very specific voting bloc. Is this the moment National starts to grab back the headlines from Labour? Will this stem the exodus of ‘deep down’ Nats to NZ First and Labour - ie triggering New Zealand First “common sensers” back to Bill English?

A lot will come down to how the 6pm news guys cover this tonight. If this comes across as National providing common sense solutions for ‘the economy’ then the move will result in votes. National has been watching the media tide turn to Labour and biding its time in the expectation that the initial reaction to Jacinda Ardern becoming leader will soften with a few weeks to go until the campaign - they might be thinking that's started given the reaction to capital gains tax hitting the headlines again. And this is the follow-up.

Here’s the announcement:

Motorists will now be able to travel up to 110 kilometres per hour on some of New Zealand’s key expressways, made possible by the Government’s significant investment in new and safer roads, Associate Transport Minister Tim Macindoe announced today.

“The Government has invested heavily in our roads, with a focus on making them safer and cutting travel times for motorists and freight,” Mr Macindoe says.

“With our initial seven Roads of National Significance – with enhanced safety features – either complete or under construction, we can begin rolling out faster speed limits in certain areas.”

Mr Macindoe says faster speed limits will initially be rolled out to the Tauranga Eastern Link, and parts of the Waikato Expressway.

Other roads currently under construction, such as the Kapiti Expressway and the southern section of the Christchurch Motorway (once the second stage is completed) will be considered in future.

“Our investment in the national roading network means we are already significantly improving travel times while also ensuring our roads are safer, and the new speed limit will build on that,” Mr Macindoe says.

“This will allow New Zealanders to get to where they need to be faster.

“The faster 110 kilometres per hour speed limit will only apply to stretches of roads built to a standard where the higher speed limit is both safe and appropriate. This includes having at least two lanes in each direction, a median barrier, no significant curves and no direct access to neighbouring properties.

“Our new Roads of National Significance are our safest roads – with no fatalities to date. This change strikes the right balance between ensuring the safety of road users and faster travel times for our motorists and freight.

“The Government is committed to providing the infrastructure New Zealand needs as a growing country, and that’s why we’re spending over $30 billion over the next four years on schools, hospitals, roads and other public infrastructure.”

The 110km/h speed limit will be in effect on roads that already meet the criteria before the end of the year.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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If the promise of an extra 10kph on a handful of roads is sufficient to win votes then I have grave concerns for this democracy.

Don't over-estimate the depth of thought that voters put in to voting.

As an aside, I understood this is a general revision of road speed limits and that a significant number of rural roads will have their limits reduced.

Yeah they didn't mention that for some reason... Although I think that would be more likely to get Winston voters (old people like to drive slow)

Yes us old people have life skills which is a major reason we are still around.

And bad eyesight

Until bad health takes over, then too many are bloody lethal.

Yep, it was already in train through the govt's safer speeds package

But the 110 kph bylaw process was earmarked for "late 2017." 

I don't think August qualifies as "late 2017". It certainly qualifies as "election campaign" though.

Point on Winston voters is the 'younger ones' who might be leaning that way rather than his typical bloc - who will certainly remain with him. I know that sounds a bit cynical, but I am a bit of a cynic. National is using this period of 'Labour-mania' to double down on trying to get that part of its support base to either come back from NZF or not go to NZF. For me, this fits in with that - the regional focus happens to be Tauranga and the Waikato too.


Alex - the announcement is already receiving enough cynicism on FB. You don't seem to understand why voters are firmly in the Winston Peters camp and growing by the day. If National think that sensible young people will jump ship over a speed limit - it won't happen. Besides - we know why they haven't added the Southern Motorway car park!

Brilliant , I wonder which roads qualify, given the Highway between Albany and Silverdale is new and safe at 110 kms /hr , but due to massive immigration and resulting congestion its often moving at walking pace in the mornings and afternoons.

So the new speed limit will be 120 kph, then? Given that there's a 10 kph 'tolerance' already built into the current laws.....

not on a public holiday...

NB Roughly for every 10kmh increase in speed we see a 14% increase in fuel consumption.

That's a direct user pays decision.

I bet you I can increase my speed from 0-10km/h with a 0% rise in petrol burnt by my car. Same with 100-110km/h

Could you please explain the physics of this phenomena.

Maybe this person has an electric thing

Quite simple - the torque curve - which reflects efficiency - for the engine is more bell shaped vs the drag curve so by the judicious optimisation of gearing there are sweet spots where for some vehicles in some speed ranges small increases in speed can result in similar fuel burn.

Overdrives have been around for many years to exploit this issue.

Now we are officially into the silly season. 326 people died on NZ roads last year. Already the toll this year is 247 and we haven't finished August yet. Are we trying for 400? And we want to drive faster?
Most European countries have a speed limit of 90kph on the open road and 50 in built up areas and 30!!!!! in residential areas and town centres.
Sweden has a government policy of zero road deaths. They haven't got there but their road fatalities are 2.8 per 100,000 inhabitants per year. The UK is at 2.9, Australia 5.4 and NZ 6.0. So twice what it could and should be.

Germany, France? Number of cars? Km travelled? Pedestrians included? Road Quality? Dual carriageway? There are so many ways the stats can be skewed to suit the argument you want to make. Any death is tragic, but zero is a dream. Having done a few rural road trips I'd be putting a block under the throttle on every ute before I worried about 110km/hr on the motorway.

Very few countries have a speed limit as low as ours on dual carriageways. Off the top of my head it is 130 kmh in France, 70 mph in England (112 kmh), unlimited in Germany, 110 kmh in Australia.

Try driving the Ida valley at 100km only. Very difficult. (Aucklanders - this vale of awesomeness is beyond your comprehension).

Favourite hangout for the local Central Otago police....but yeah, the straight goes further than the eye can see....

mmmh IO and yes. Just the other day a bloke with flashing lights stopped me for a chat. Musta been lonely out there in the awesome expanse.

Has anyone else noticed how extremely hard it is to go only 80 ks down into the underground tunnel in Ak?

Think you might find most of their highways are concrete, tar seal is not the best medium for faster traffic

I wonder how many of those you can attribute to tourists in campervans!

That's it ! We have taken the small step from the the sublime to the ridiculous

Is this even an election issue ?

I am now fed up with this election which is getting messier and messier .

The Greens have been consigned to the compost heap having lost direction completely from their core issues

Labour still has huge cracks, a lack of depth and even skill, their policies change by the hour, depending on the audience, and Jacinda is just new wallpaper over those cracks.

Dunne is out, and was way past his sell-by date

NZ First have some really dumb ideas like buying back the SOE's

Act are amatuers

TOP have some really off - the-wall ideas w.r.t. taxation

National have made a huge cock-up with immigration and are trying to deflect attention away from the mess they have created , and its unintended ( although not unforeseen) consequences . Increasing the speed limit to 110 is just such a diversion , its a joke because everyone travels at this speed already .

Is this the best we can produce ?

My threat boycott the election and go fishing on election day if the weather is good , stands

I think you are fed up because National might lose?

Who votes on election day any more?

BTW: You have better control than I do, since seeing it on Trademe I can't stop calling her Taxinda.

Well they put the speed limit up on immigration without any consequences....... oh wait

In fairness, if you otherwise like NZ First I'd consider disregarding their SOE stance. It's not gonna happen.

You are quite right if you are talking about the Power Companies. Winston gave his man a telling off this morning as it is not going to happen. Suggest readers read policy for all parties and see what fits with you.

Tend to agree boatman (TOP party aside - agree with their policies or not least they are focused on relevant issues). But as for the rest of what we are hearing.....cripes !!

Hey Boatman ....

once you get your vehicle speed up over 90 kph your "rate" of fuel consumption increases rapidly

It's another carefully cunningly deviously disguised fuel excise tax increase by National

"once you get your vehicle speed up over 90 kph your fuel consumption goes up exponentially"
...Ahhh, what?
So fuel consumption by velocity is a non-continuous function?
That sounds pretty stupid to me.

What you mean to say is that fuel consumption (in a vehicle) is an exponential function (is it even?) of velocity. Meaning that as velocity increases, the marginal rate of consumption increases.

Most petrol engines drive most economically at around 2200 - 2400 rpm on the flat, the speed that ends up being will vary a bit, but not much, not many will be going more than 100kph

Quite possibly.

My point was what they don't do is have a linear rate of consumption up to a given velocity, then transform into a non linear rate of consumption.

Yep - The issue is the drag which is an exponential non-linear equation if all other factors remain the same. The force required to push an object through the atmosphere increases at the cube of velocity.

At stop-and-go speeds, aerodynamics has little affect on fuel efficiency, but the faster you go it matters a lot.

At 135kph, you have four times the force working against your vehicle that you had at 60kph (Increasing speed from 90kph to 130kph for example increases drag by about 40 percent, resulting in a 10 to 15 percent increase in fuel consumption)

Even worse for blunt tall things like SUVs, vans or Utes.

The future is going to require that we do go "off the wall" for how the economy in different times will work. I think he is on the right track, but a bit early yet for some of his stuff, but again, definitely on the right track. Everything is going to be vastly different in our grandchildren's future, and vastly different ideas will need to be considered.
We will be dead, but I, at least, am prepared to open my mind enough to think of how this may all roll out.

yes ex expat Germany (different way of looking at it) 4.9 deaths per blah blah blah, NZ 6.7 per blah blah blah . It doesn't matter how you skew the stats the NZ road toll is still horrendous. Poorly built roads, poor driving skills (oh, lets turn left from a right hand turn lane, oh lets run this bicycle off the road,oh lets.....),
And no, Jimbo Jones, NZ does not have dual carriageways. We have urban motorways which in Europe including Germany have an 80 kph limit.

I agree that our roads are terrible and our driving is terrible.
I agree that a lot of roads should have lower speed limits.
But a small selection of our roads (e.g. the Waikato expressway) are capable of having a 110 kmh speed limit. They look a lot like dual carriageways to me, why do you think they aren't?

Might be a good time to look into buying a petrol station franchise close to a motorway... or maybe investing in the local Funeral Directors would be a better bet...

Do you understand that it's a risk based approach where many roads will have lower speed limits? As it stands I can currently legally go for a Sunday drive though back roads at up to 100km/hr where in future some of those roads will have 70/80 km/hr limits. My hope is that the Police will actually police those back roads rather than taking the lazy approach on SH1 etc.

Can I have a refund on the ad campaign I've funded?

There are many old cars on the road without the modern handling and safety features. A cautious approach would be to allow 110 kph speed limit for cars build after say 2010.

My fuel consumption will not go up by much , I have a Mercedes diesel and my wide uses a Prius , and my fuel bill is one quarter of what it was 2 years ago

I wouldn't call my wife "wide" if I was you....Thats way more dangerous than a 110k speed limit ever would be...


Intergenerational stupidity. What an insult. Way to further impact on our ability to meet our Paris targets. Just plain dumb.

Our Paris targets are out the window thanks to population growth. You can't have gridlocked cities and fuel efficiency unless the fleet is electric.

Great news