Is this Australia’s last no-B.S. cop? No-nonsense commissioner calls out ‘ridiculous’ local council plan to change road rules
Victoria’s police commissioner has rejected the City of Melbourne’s “ridiculous” plan to reduce the speed limit to 30km/h on several major roads.
Commissioner Shane Patton said he is “not aware of any evidence” showing that drastically lowering the speed limit on busy city streets is the solution to the state’s rising number of traffic fatalities.
The City of Yarra Council, responsible for some of Melbourne’s busiest roads, voted on Tuesday to extend Fitzroy and Collingwood’s 30km/h speed limit trial to all suburban streets.
The proposal includes Johnston, Nicholson and Hoddle Streets and Victoria Parade – which the Department of Transport and Planning manages.
The decision allows the City of Yarra to begin the process as early as February 2024, pending approval from the state government.
Yarra City Council has voted to extend the 30km/h speed limit trial to all suburban streets, including Victoria Parade (above)
Commissioner Patton argued against the reduced speed limit, claiming most serious crashes involving fatalities on Victorian roads occur in regional and remote areas, rather than on busy city streets.
“I just think that’s ridiculous… 20 miles,” Patton told ABC radio Thursday morning.
“I don’t think anyone will obey it… it’s ridiculous.
‘I’m not aware of any evidence that lowering the speed limit by another six miles so that people can’t get out of third gear when driving a manual car will make any difference in road trauma.’
A joint submission to state parliament from the Victorian Government Road Safety Partnership cited research supporting lower speed limits, particularly for pedestrian safety.
The group includes Victoria Police, the Transport Accident Commission, the Department of Justice and Community Safety and the transport, justice and health departments.
Victoria Police Commissioner Shane Patton (above) called the limit ‘ridiculous’ and pointed out that most road deaths happen in regional areas, not on busy city streets
‘A pedestrian or cyclist struck at a speed of 50 km/h has a 90 per cent chance of being killed on impact, compared to a 10 per cent chance of being killed if struck at a speed of 30 km/h,” the report said.
‘Successive studies have shown that 30km/h is the maximum impact speed for a healthy adult before death or very serious injury becomes increasingly likely.’
The submission referred to government data from before the Covid-19 crisis, which showed an average of two pedestrians killed each year in collisions in 40km/h zones, six in 50km/h zones and 15 in 60km/h zones.
Samantha Cockfield, head of road safety at the Transport Accident Commission, also told a public hearing in August that similar 30km/h speed zones have been introduced around the world ‘with quite great success’.
“Speed is really the underlying problem that we have… with our vulnerable road users and what we really need to address,” she said.
The trial will initially exclude tram routes – including Brunswick, Gertrude and Smith streets – where changes to traffic lights and timetables are required.
In addition to evidence of global success, Yarra Council’s review of road accident data over the past five years showed a 51 percent reduction in crashes and a 71 percent reduction in serious crashes since the introduction of the 30km speed limit /o’clock.
If approved by the Victorian Government, the 30km/h speed limit could be introduced in February
The data showed 193 crashes occurred on the streets of Collingwood and Fitzroy in the suburbs.
Victoria Police will hold an emergency meeting later this week in response to the 15-year toll of road deaths in Victoria, which reached 258 on Monday.
Ny Breaking Australia has contacted Yarra Council for comment.