Electronic sign to cut speeds

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A reduced speed restriction will be enforced at Luggate when the Government rolls out its next instalment of electronic signs.

The sign will be placed at the intersection of State Highways 6 and 8A on the Wanaka side of Luggate.

It is one of 10 to be installed nationwide at high-risk intersections as part of the Government’s $22.5million boost safety programme.

There have been three fatalities, three serious injuries and four minor injuries following crashes within 50m of the Luggate intersection between 2007 and 2016.

They were the result of six crashes.

The sign will reduce the speed on State Highway 6 from 100kmh to 70kmh.

Luggate Community Association chairman Graeme Perkins said that move was a step in the right direction.

However, because the speed limit was already reduced from 100kmh to 70kmh and then 50kmh on another stretch of the highway, he was unsure if the new sign would have much more effect.

“But, I guess to have extra help to slow the traffic down is a good thing, but it’s not really what we want.”

Instead, he wanted the speed limit immediately reduced from 100kmh to 50kmh.

“On both sides of the town, where it says 70kmh, it’s all getting built up. There’s school kids walking to school and because of the growth of the town [residents want it reduced to 50kmh].”

Associate Minister for Transport Julie Anne Genter said electronic speed signs were proven to cut serious crash rates by almost 80%.

An NZ Transport Agency spokesman backed up those findings.

“A study of the first 10 intersection speed zones trialled in New Zealand found that the fatal and serious crash rate reduced by 79% and the overall crash rate reduced by 51%.”

The electronic signs detect when a driver is turning into or out of a side road, and temporarily reduce the legal speed limit on the state highway.

NZTA will install the sign at Luggate, and those confirmed for Northland, Waikato and Canterbury, between now and July.

Each area has their own designated speed restriction, dropping from 100kmh to either 60kmh or 70kmh.

“Too often a simple mistake at a rural intersection has a devastating consequence. These simple safety improvements will help save lives on rural roads,” Ms Genter said.

“By temporarily slowing vehicles around busy rural intersections, these signs significantly reduce the risk of serious crashes occurring.

“This is because the risk of serious injury or death in side-impact crashes significantly increases at speeds above 50kmh.”

All 10 intersections in the latest rollout were at locations that had a high risk of serious crashes, she said.

Intersection speed zones are already in use at 13 other locations on state highways around the country to slow traffic in high-risk locations with minimal disruption to travellers.