Speed Limit Frequently Asked Questions

Why are we reviewing speed limits?

We are reviewing speed limits as part of a nationwide Road Safety Strategy that is aimed at reducing fatal and serious harm crashes on our roads.  The Strategy recognises that New Zealand has one of the highest rates of road fatalities in the developed world.  Northland has the highest rate of serious injury and fatal crashes in New Zealand.  

The Road to Zero Road Safety Strategy promotes a Safe System approach to road safety that promotes:

  • Improved driver education, behaviour, and skills
  • Improving the road network by making it safer
  • Improving the safety of vehicles using the road
  • Addressing unsafe speeds

Speed Limits are one area that we can address now and have an immediate impact on reducing serious injury and fatal crashes.

In Northland, between 2014 and 2018; 39 people died (37 fatal crashes); 238 people were seriously injured (186 serious injury crashes) where inappropriate speed was a significant factor. 

Wherever a speed limit has been lowered, or better matched to the road environment, we have recorded a reduction in the number of crashes and the severity of those crashes that do occur.

Surviving a crash

A slower speed limit will significantly reduce the chance of you having a crash.  If you are involved in a crash, a slower speed limit will dramatically increase the chances that you will walk away.

Wherever the speed limit has been reduced, even by a small amount, the number of speed related crashes has reduced significantly.

If you are in a head on collision at 100km/h the chances of surviving are about 5% -10%, but in the same collision driving at 80km/h your chance of survival rises to about 80%.

Journey times

It is surprising how little the overall journey time is affected by a lower speed limit that reflects the safe and appropriate speed for the road environment. 

Most drivers travel much slower than the posted speed limit on our local rural roads.  This is because the road may have many corners, is narrow or unsealed.  Most people naturally go slower in these circumstances.  In our urban areas, your average journey speed ranges between 26km/h and 33km/h, and even slower during peak times in some of our Northland towns.  

In Northland, many of our journeys on local roads are relatively short, with a typical journey being between 5km and 10km.  This is because we tend to use the State Highway Network to reach more distant destinations.  The table below provides different journey times at different speeds.

Distance Travelled

Time at max 100km/h

Time at max 80km/h

Difference in time

2km 1min 12sec 1min 30sec 18sec
5km 3min 3min 45sec 45sec
10km 6min 7min 30sec 1min 30sec
15km 9min 11min 15sec 2min 15sec