Council has been lobbying the state government since 1999 to reduce speed limits in Port Phillip. Initially, speeds were reduced around schools then in 2009, we began to lower speeds in shopping centres and other areas with a high number of pedestrians.
We are now moving towards lowering the speed limit in local residential streets on an area-wide basis. This is part of Council's longer-term goal to introduce 40 km/h speed limits to a greater number of residential streets in Port Phillip.
When setting a speed limit, it must be likely that the majority of traffic travels below the proposed limit. Council officers have conducted traffic surveys and are satisfied that the majority of drivers already travel at speeds consistent with a 40 km/h speed limit.
Why is Council lowering the speed limit in local areas
Speed is a major factor contributing to road accidents. Changes in speed can result in a significant reduction in the number and severity of crashes. Urban speed limits in Australia are still very high compared to international standards.
The default urban speed limit in Victoria was lowered from 60 km/h to 50 km/h in 2001. Research by Monash University shows that this change was associated with a reduction in fatal and serious injury crashes for pedestrians of between 25 per cent and 40 per cent.
In 2001, the number of crashes in Port Phillip was reduced by 94 crashes (16 per cent) from the previous year. This is the highest reduction in crashes seen in Port Phillip since 1989.
Lower speeds give all road users more time to react to avoid a collision. If a crash does occur, lower speeds reduce the severity of an injury, particularly to pedestrians and bike riders. The relationship between speed and the likelihood of fatality for pedestrians is a 10 per cent probability of fatality at an impact speed of 30 km/h, over 80 per cent at 50 km/h and 100 per cent at 70 km/h.
Lower speeds also encourage more people to walk and ride. When people feel safer on local streets, they are more likely to spend more time on the street.
Will lower speeds mean delays when driving
One of the perceived disadvantages of reducing speed limits is an increase in travel time.
The City of Port Phillip is an urban environment and average speeds are influenced by many factors. The travel time on urban streets are more likely to be influenced by stopping at intersections, congestion, on-street parking and pedestrians crossing the street.
Any delays that drivers may experience due to a change in speed limit would be minimal. Even ignoring all other factors mentioned above, a reduction in the speed limit from 50 km/h to 40 km/h increases travel time by 14 seconds over an 800-metre long street.
The marginal impact on travel times is outweighed by a significant safety benefit.
Speed limit signs
A speed limit sign will be installed at the entry point to each street so that they are visible to drivers entering. Signs will be installed on existing signposts or electricity poles where suitable. New posts will be installed if no existing poles or posts are suitable.
Monitoring changes in speed
Traffic speeds will be measured within each of the areas before changing the speed limit. Speeds will again be measured after the new speed limits have been in place for a year and monitored over the coming years to assess their effectiveness.
Enforcing the new speed limits
Victoria Police is responsible for enforcing all speed limits. Council's proposed changes to speed limits are supported by Victoria Police and the Department of Transport.
Revenue from speeding fines
Speed is a major factor contributing to road crashes. A small change in speed can result in a significant reduction in the number and severity of crashes. Council does not receive any revenue from speeding fines. The revenue is collected by the state government. All net revenue collected from speeding fines is directed back into road safety.
For more information about speeding fines and penalties, visit Cameras Save Lives.
There is a large body of research into the impact of lowering speed limits in urban environments, both in Australia and overseas. Links to some of these studies are:
- An evaluation of the default 50 km/h speed limit in Victoria - Monash University Accident Research Centre (2006)
- Safe Speed Evidence review 2008 (PDF 1.5 MB) - Dr Jan Garrard (2008)
- Road speed statistics - Transport Accident Commission (TAC)