Speed limits on Victorian roads
Speed limits exist to help protect the Victorian community.
This information helps explain who determines speed limits, how they are set and why they are enforced.
Watch this short video to see how reduced speed limits in Melbourne have helped make their community safer.
Over the last five years, 20 people
every year would still be alive
had they been struck in a 40km
zone, not a 50km or a 70km zone.
Definitely had that experience
where cars have been very close
to hitting my daughter in the pram
so I would definitely support
40km in built-up, busy areas.
ROBERT: In the CBD, the community
demanded lower speed limits.
Now it's time to test
the same thing in Kensington.
MAN: Things can certainly get
a bit hairy,
particularly in peak hour
and with people getting
on and off trams and things,
so, yeah, it can only be
a good thing, a 40km zone.
MAN 2: There's a lot of traffic
comes through in the mornings.
The 40km, I think, would be
a not unreasonable suggestion.
Even with the speed bumps,
people go way too fast.
We've got to keep people safe
when we're mixing public transport
with pedestrians with cyclists
and with cars,
and the best way to do that
is to use the magic number - 40.
Why do speed limits exist?
Speed limits help make Victoria's roads a safe place for drivers, riders, cyclists and pedestrians.
When cars, trucks and motorcycles travel at the speed limit, they significantly reduce their chances of being involved in an accident. Research shows that travelling at 65km/h in a 60km/h zone doubles your chance of being in a crash.
For vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, these small differences in speed can mean the difference between life and death. It may not feel like much of a difference to someone behind the wheel, but a car braking from 65 km/h will still be travelling at 32 km/h at the point where a vehicle braking from 60 km/h has stopped.
Lowering speed limits in urban areas has made a big difference to pedestrian injuries and deaths since they were introduced to Victoria in 2001.
Who determines speed limits and how are they chosen?
Speed limits set by VicRoads are guided by the principles of the Safe System approach. This system assumes that accidents will happen and aims to design, build and speed limit our roads so that when an accident does occur, those involved do not have serious or fatal injuries.
Excerpt from the Traffic Engineering Manual Volume 1: Chapter 7 Speed Zoning Guidelines Edition 5, November 2013.
"Under the umbrella of the Safe System, the following guiding principles apply to the setting of speed limits:
- Speed limits must be set in a consistent manner – combinations of similar environments and factors should have the same speed limit, although it is recognised that no two situations will be exactly the same.
- As far as is practically possible, speed limits should be consistent with the expectations of road users and the broad community. It should be noted that drivers are not necessarily good judges of what constitutes a safe speed1.
- The number of changes in speed limits along any route should be kept to a minimum."
1 Refer to Austroads Guide to Road Safety, Part 3: Speed Limits and Speed Management, Appendix C
Why are there different speed limits on stretches of road that seem similar?
Using the Safe System approach, VicRoads tries to set speed limits in a consistent manner. However, unique situations on any given stretch of road may result in some areas having a higher or lower speed limit than a road which appears to be similar.
For example, if road upgrade options have been exhausted or are not feasible in the short term, a stretch of road may have a reduced speed limit to improve safety.
How and why are speed limits enforced?
Speed limits are enforced to make Victoria's roads safer for all road users.
Enforcement is carried out by road safety cameras which are overseen by the Department of Justice and Regulation.
In areas that are not covered by speed cameras, Victoria Police enforce speed limits with specially trained traffic police and Highway Patrols.
More information about road safety cameras can be found on the Cameras Save Lives website.
The link between speed and safety
Research shows that even a small reduction in speed will save lives. The reasons for this are twofold:
- In a 60km/h zone, you double your chances of being involved in an accident for each 5km/h above the speed limit you travel
- The faster you are travelling when an accident occurs, the more likely that serious injury or death will result from that accident
These facts apply to all types of accidents, but are particularly important for accidents involving pedestrians:
- Research shows that a pedestrian has little chance of survival if hit by a car travelling at 60km/h
- The chance of survival increases to 60 percent if a pedestrian is struck by a car travelling at 50km/h.
Since urban speed limits were lowered to 50km/h in 2001, there has been a significant reduction in the number of pedestrian serious injuries and fatalities.
Since the 40km/h school speed limit was introduced in 2004, no fatalities have been recorded in school zones.
In general, research shows that slowing down saves lives. It is estimated that even a 10 percent reduction in average vehicle travelling speeds would result in a 40 percent reduction in road deaths.