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Speed limits in the Safe System context.
This paper proposes a set of new principles for setting speed limits based on harm minimisation, the cornerstone of the Safe System approach. The Safe System approach seeks to develop and manage the road transport system so that death and serious injury are eliminated. Safer Roads and Safer Speeds are two of its main elements.
The new speed limit setting principles have been developed for Austroads by the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) and road jurisdiction stakeholders. They follow the Safe System approach and have been based on recent research into the relationships between road features, speeds limits, driver speeds and crash outcomes. In the long term, application of these new principles will achieve harm minimisation through matching speed limits with the level of protection offered by the road infrastructure. As part of the new principles, a process is proposed to analyse the Safe System readiness of a road and identify the speed limit options and road improvement options required to achieve safe travel. It is recognised, however, that in the short and medium term, many of the Safe System road features may not be economically viable and not all speed limits would be immediately acceptable to the public. Thus, various harm reduction measures are proposed as interim steps towards the Safe System.