Doctors call to scrap Northern Territory unrestricted speed-limits

Unrestricted Speed Limits Northern Territory

AUSTRALIA’S doctors have called on the Northern Territory government to slam the brakes on its open speed trial, calling the experiment in allowing drivers to set their own speed limit “dangerous policy”.

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine all today called for the NT to dump the recently extended trial in the wake of the August 27 election.

ACEM faculty member James Fordyce told Wheels the money spent on expanding and maintaining the open speed limits would be better spent on road infrastructure elsewhere, or dealing with the Northern Territory's high drug and alcohol use problem (a significant factor in the NT's road toll).

“It’s sending the wrong public health message – we want to be making roads safer, not increasing risk,” Dr Fordyce said.

Fiat -Panda -unrestricted -Speed -limitsHe said the benefits gained in terms of reducing travel times along the 500km stretch of the Stuart Highway in the NT “are relatively minimal”.

“We already have the highest speed limit in Australia at 130km/h, and as speed increases, risk increases because your reaction time doesn’t get faster but the distance your car travels before you react does, and the damage from impact is that much higher,” Dr Fordyce said.

The NT government’s chief minister, Adam Giles, announced earlier this year that the trial had been extended to cover most of the road between Alice Springs in the south, to Tennant Creek in the central part of the territory, largely in response to drivers “acting sensibly”.

The territory’s Transport Minister, Glen Chandler, said he would work towards extending the trial further if the government was returned in the election.

“Occasionally you’re going to get somebody that drives extremely fast, but it [someone driving faster than 130km/h] is usually in a high-performance car who are doing the right thing,” Chandler told Wheels.

Fiat -Panda -driving -unrestricted -Speed -limits“They’re taking a commonsense approach, as I knew they would, and to date [the high-speed trial] has been successful.

“We will continue the roll-out of the open speed limits on the roads that we’ve done up to the point where the science indicates that they are capable of higher speeds than 130.”

Despite the open speed limits, NT police are still able to book drivers for dangerous driving if they consider speeds are unsafe for a combination of factors, including road and weather conditions, the maintenance of the vehicle and experience behind the wheel.

So, what’s a safe speed? According to Dr Fordyce, it is “governed by the conditions of the road, the condition of your vehicle, the environment, what condition the driver is in – there certainly needs to be good driver judgement in determining a speed to travel at”.

“The reason for putting upper limits on speed are to mandate where the community feels driver judgement goes so far, but beyond that it is an unsafe speed,” he said. “Most drivers will make sensible decisions; some won’t.

Bentayga -driving -on -Sturt -Highway -Northern -Territory“And in the right environment around Australia there are speed limits put in place by people who have looked at the environment, the physical factors, and community expectations and put limits on it.

“There is no sensible reason not to have the same systems in place for this 500km in the NT.”

Likewise, Dr Fordyce says he believes there is no need to increase the speed limit along the Hume Highway, which has much better infrastructure to support higher speed limits than the Northern Territory’s Stuart Highway.

“There’s no need to go faster than 130km/h,” he said.

He admitted, though, that speeding does affects us all, even if it is only via the hip pocket.

“I’ve certainly had speeding fines. I try and avoid speeding,” he said.

“I think driving at 130 is pretty fast, I’ve got a good modern car and I wouldn’t want to drive any faster than 130.”

Bentley was recently forced to take down a YouTube video that depicted a Continental Speed GT maxing out on a closed section of the Stuart Highway following a complaint by the Pedestrian Council of Australia.

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  • It is safe. This is the doctors (who should really be focused on why MEDICAL mistake kill massively more yearly by the medical profession ) trying to tell meddle in something they don't understand. There is more to "safety" than a number sign. What you have here are "doctors" using the "impact" speed argument, and not why a crash happens to justify the speed limit. Leave it unrestricted.
  • Why do we need to go faster? Admittedly, some of our speed limits are so low, and enforcement so high, that you need to watch your speedo more than the road. At the end of the day, who cares if we get there 5 minutes later, at least we got there safely. I admit that I enjoy going that little bit faster, but is it all testosterone talk??? I mean, listen to the US carry on about their gun laws, and how they have a right to bear arms. Are we really advocating a right to go fast???
  • Most doctors are competent but a few are not and have killed people therefore all doctors should be "fee limited" just to be safe....
  • Has thus doctor driven the stretch of highway? I think not. Did it December last year and140/150 was simple out there. Helped by a well maintained road
  • @Cath : the only logical crash speed is zero; these chaps have no method for picking a proper limit... Anything above zero to too high for them!
  • We should respect that the surgeon would be the expert of crash trauma. You will need all the help you could get if you were to hit something (e.g. kangaroo). Surely this is not a perfect road devoid of any obstacles?
  • More PC claptrap. Doctors: read this and weep: "largely in response to drivers acting sensibly” You want to penalise responsible motorists to assist drunks and drug users? Let's import a few German doctors who are use autobahns. A little more competition should help this PC Dr brigade use their spare time to compete for customers. And let's see the speeding fine revenue used to improve our roads so our pollies are happy for us to cruise at 130kmh on the Hume and other very good stretches of tarmac.
  • Did the 130 kph and unlimited in the NT in December 2015 to get it off the bucket list. No worries. Noticed there were 49 road fatalities in the NT for 2015, 6 of which were people laying on the road at night. Perhaps one of the first questions which need to be asked is just how many fatalities occurred in the 130/unlimited stretches?
  • Yeah, how well are all those other speed limits around the country working? The road toll is going up despite the most massive speed kills, speed camera campaign in the nations history. Speed limits instill a false sense of security that provided that you travel at or below a speed limit you are safe. Nothing could be further from the truth, the vast majority of fatalities occur during travel at or below set speed limits but obviously too fast for the conditions. Speed limits can never stop this, it has to be the judgement of a traffic cop. All the studies used to justify the "speed kills" campaigns never separate above and below the speed limit fatalities and con everybody with the term "speeding". In the fine print their definition normally includes both travel above set speed limits as well as below set speed limits but too fast for the conditions. Its all about control, obedience training.
  • The Pedestrian "Council" is really just one guy. He has no mandate. You can't join the council. It's a joke. But, I guess he's protecting all those vulnerable pedestrians in outback NT. Well done him!
  • I'm led to believe that the Pedestrian Council has just 1 member , Harold Scrubby.
  • So , what makes a surgeon an expert on how fast I should drive my car? I'm a professional driver and am confident that I know how to assess the situation. My skills as a driver don't give me the expertise to tell him where to cut when operating on me so what makes him think that his expertise at surgery makes him competent or qualified to comment on a completely unrelated skill ?
  • A complaint from the Pedestrian Council? I'm shocked!