Lower speed limits on the way?

UNSW finds significant drop in pedestrian fatalities with lower speeds

30 speed limit road sign

Back in the day, residential and city streets pretty much all carried a 60km/h speed limit.

In the past 20 years or so though that limit has been reduced to a fairly standard 50km/h.

Now there’s a push on to have areas classified as having high pedestrian activity reduced even further.

A University of NSW study is recommending reductions from 50km/h, down to 30 to 40km/h.

We’re talking areas such as a city CBD, shopping strips along roads in suburbs and country towns, as well as roads around schools and sports venues.

The researchers say the speed reduction would save lives with their preference being a 30km/h speed limit.

Why so low? Well it might seem like common sense, but it was found the slower a vehicle is traveling the less likely a collision with a pedestrian will cause fatal injuries.

The analysis found that risk of a fatality reaches 5% at an estimated impact speed of 28km/h, 10% at 36km/h, down from 50% at 57km/h.

And they say the lower speed limits bring an additional bonus – the driver of a vehicle moving at a slower speed was found to be more likely to spot a pedestrian on the road ahead than when travelling at 50km/h.

What are your thoughts on this? Should we be supporting lower speed limits with a view to saving lives? Or is 50km/h a safe speed for trucks and buses to travel at in busy areas?

Let us know your thoughts on this in the comments section below.

Stay up to date with the latest on Heavy Vehicle Road Safety at heavyvehicles.com.au. 

About Joel Helmes 1836 Articles
Joel is the founder and CEO of Heavy Vehicles. With more than 20 years experience in the media, including more than 10 years heading up the car publication - Behind the Wheel, Joel is passionate about bringing a fresh perspective to the Australian road transport industry. Prior to his media career Joel worked for a number of years as a bus, truck and delivery driver.


  1. Stupidity at its finest. Stop slugging the road user for everything. Pedestrians need to be more aware of road traffic and more respectful.

  2. Absolutely support lower speeds. Roads are – believe it or not – not just for people in cars and trucks etc… Walkers need to cross roads and telling older people they can only cross where crossing lights are located is a bit like telling a driver they can only turn at intersections with lights (as if! How inconvenient!)
    It is in society’s interest that more people be out of vehicles and get around by walking and cycling – for both health and environment reasons and to reduce congestion. Big roads with fast-moving traffic are a huge deterrent to walking (think of parents no longer allowing their children to walk to school). Also, the cost of installing crossings means there are not nearly enough to make walking and only crossing at crossings convenient. The most sensible way forward is to lower speeds, particularly in areas where society wants and needs to encourage walking and cycling. And for the drivers who oppose this… How much time do you really lose by slowing down a bit? It may just mean you spend less time idling at intersections. Let’s follow Europe on this one and stop following the United States down the path of priority for driving over others forms of transport. Car-dependant and congested cities are not good places to be.

  3. Speed kills and reduced speed limits are certainly a step in the right direction toward sharing our roads. We have massive trucks heading to building sites powering through our neighbourhoods, near hospitals or shopping strips, public transport interchanges etc whilst kids are trying to get to and from school, or families or the elderly are trying to go about their daily business and our community lives in fear. These changes can’t happen soon enough.

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