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Nov 22, 2007


The LDP has called for a new system of setting speed limits that would result in some speed limits being increased so they more closely match community standards.

“Since the only way to eliminate road accidents is to eliminate cars and roads, the real issue is who ought to decide the balance between speed and road deaths – public servants or Australian drivers,” said LDP Secretary David Leyonhjelm.

The LDP believes the setting speed limits in Australia is a classic example of nanny-state thinking, with bureaucrats making decisions on behalf of the rest of the community.

“The government should not be setting speed limits on a “we know best” basis,” said Mr Leyonhjelm.

“Drivers are all adults and can make their own choices. If most drivers exceed the speed limit, the limit should be raised. It’s not for the government to tell everyone they are wrong.

“This is not about letting hoons race past schools at high speed. It’s about ensuring the government is our servant, not our master.

“There is an internationally recognised method of matching speed limits to community values via the 85th percentile rule. The Australian Transport Council’s National Road Safety Strategy acknowledges this method, but quite blatantly imposes its own version of acceptable risk instead,” he said.

Traffic engineers observe that the majority of drivers drive in a safe and reasonable manner in the absence of speed limits, with the safest vehicles travelling at or below the 85th to 90th percentiles. Vehicles travelling over the 85th percentile (or faster than the flow of traffic) have a significantly higher crash risk than vehicles travelling around or modestly below this speed.

Law enforcement measures can be directed at this 15 percent, increasing the law’s legitimacy to drivers and avoiding perceptions of revenue-raising.

The LDP’s policy calls for the setting of speed limits at, or slightly above, the 85th percentile. It anticipates this would result in an increase of 10-30 km/h in the limit on roads where drivers felt it was safe to drive at such speeds, while perhaps leading to reductions on less safe roads.

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