Speed limit bylaw reviews

  • Project typeBylaws review
  • Project scheduleOngoing
An image of the road with Slow written on road surface.

As part of the Road to Zero National Road Safety Strategy, we're reviewing speed limits in the Whangārei District.

We are doing this in a staged process, focusing on areas where there is evidence that changing the speed limit will make the most difference.

Our goal is to improve the overall road safety to reduce serious harm and fatal crashes. We also need to match new speed limits with the road environment.

Upcoming consultations

We will be reviewing speed limits for Whangārei Heads Catchment Area in late 2022. Consultation will open on 28 October 2022 and close on 5 December 2022, with hearings to be scheduled in February 2023.

Current changes

Changes to speed limits came into force in Waipu township, Ruakākā, One Tree Point and Vinegar Hill on 1 August 2021.

Changes include: 

  • Waipu CBD (The Centre Road) from Nova Scotia Drive to St Mary’s Road reduced to 30km/h to improve pedestrian safety
  • Most urban roads in Waipu, Ruakākā and One Tree Point reduced to 40km/h
  • Marsden Point Road from State Highway 1 to Sime Road reduced to 50km/h; Sime Road to State Highway 15A reduced to 60km/h
  • Vinegar Hill Road reduced to 60km/h. 

Changes to the speed limit on Langs Beach where vehicles are not prohibited, came into force on 10 December 2021. The new speed limit on the beach is 20km/h.

What's next?

A review of speed limits along Cove Road, including Waipu Cove, Langs Beach and the Districts beaches has now been completed. The Recommendations Report was presented to Council on 28 October 2021.

Detailed design and implementation is now underway, with new signage being installed. The new signs will remain covered until the new speed limits come into force during mid October 2022.

We will be seeking community feedback on proposed new speed limits in the Whangārei Heads area, including Parua Bay and other harbourside communities. The submissions will be open from 28 October to 5 December 2022.

Completed reviews

Speed limit reviews in the following areas have now been completed with new speed limits that came into force on 1 August 2021:

  • Vinegar Hill Road
  • Waipū and Nova Scotia Drive
  • Ruakākā and One Tree Point

Changes to the speed limit on Langs Beach where vehicles are not prohibited, will come into force on 10 December 2021.  The new speed limit on the beach is 20km/h.

The updated Speed Limits Bylaw 2019 can be viewed below:

Speed Limits Bylaw

The speed limit review of the following areas has been completed with Council adopting the Recommendations Report on 28 October 2021: 

  • Waipu South area, including Waipu Cove and Langs Beach urban areas
  • All beaches where there is a current speed limit. 

The Recommendations Report was adopted on 28 October 2021 and can be viewed below:

Recommendations Report - Waipu South, Langs Beach (Urban) and District Beaches(PDF, 1MB)

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, National Road Safety Strategy, promotes a Safe System approach 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.

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 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.

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.

Setting a safe and appropriate speed will reduce the top end of the speed spectrum, but will not normally impact on the average speed most people drive at. This creates a much safer driving environment for everyone.