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- In urban roads with a 60 km/h speed limit, the risk of involvement in a serious injury crash has been found to double with each increase of five km/h above the speed limit (The National Road Safety Strategy: 2001-2010 Australian Transport Council).
- The risk of being involved in a crash increases with the speed a vehicle is being driven because there is less time to react, less control of the vehicle and the distance needed to stop is longer.
- The higher the speed a vehicle is travelling when it hits a pedestrian the greater the chance of a fatality occurring.
- The impact on a person in a crash at 60 km/h is equivalent to falling from a four storey building, while the impact at 100km/h equals falling from a 12 storey building.
- In general, speed-related crashes are greater on weekends (both holiday and non-holiday).
See full speeding image description
Speed limits in the ACT
The default speed limit in the ACT is 50 km/h except where otherwise indicated by signs.
The maximum speed limit in the ACT is 100 km/h. Any road without a speed limit sign is deemed to be 50 km/h. When other speed limits apply, signs indicate the start and finish of the special section.
Motorists must not exceed 10km/h and must give way to pedestrians in "shared zones" (eg., public areas such as carparks where both pedestrians and vehicles have access).
Vehicles travelling in a school zone must not exceed 40km/h when the school zone is operating.
Speed limits in the ACT are enforced by police patrols using radar and laser speed measuring devices, moveable speed cameras and fixed speed cameras linked to red light cameras at some intersections.
50 km/h residential area speed limits
Driving at 50 km/h instead of 60 km/h gives you a much better chance of avoiding a collision and, if you do have a crash, the results are usually much less severe.
The distance it takes to stop a vehicle travelling at 60 km/h is at least 10 metres more than at 50 km/h. This can make all the difference if a child suddenly runs onto the road or a vehicle unexpectedly reverses out of a driveway.
In NSW, there has been an overall decrease of 16 per cent in crashes on roads where the 50 km/h speed limit has been introduced. Much greater reductions have been achieved in casualty crashes involving pedestrians, cyclists and older drivers, which have fallen by 60, 40 and 33 per cent respectively.
Many other countries, including New Zealand, Canada, Sweden, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, as well as most parts of the United States, already have urban speed limits of 50 km/h or less.
The 50 km/h speed limit is enforced by ACT Policing in the same way as all other speed limits in the ACT.
Speed detection devices
In this section:
Speed and red light cameras
The speed and red light cameras used in the ACT, are operated by staff from the Department of Urban Services, on behalf of the Chief Police Officer of the ACT.
The speed cameras used in the ACT are laser operated speed measuring devices that are extremely accurate. The speed cameras are certified as being correct at regular intervals, so that certification can be produced in any subsequent court matters.
The speed cameras are only able to target one vehicle at a time.
Red light cameras
The red light cameras in the ACT can detect whether a vehicle has driven through a red light as well as detecting the speed of a vehicle. The cameras are not laser operated, as the cameras react to sensors that are located under the roads surface. The red light camera takes an automatic image of the vehicle when the traffic lights turn red (whether a car is present or not). If a vehicle triggers the camera, a series of photographs are taken of the vehicle. A series of photo images of the vehicle are saved, displaying the location of the vehicle at the red traffic lights and the progression of the vehicle through the intersection.
In addition, the image displays the length of time between the light turning red and the vehicle tripping the sensor.
LTI 20-20 and Ultralyte laser
The LTI 20-20 and Ultralyte laser speed measuring devices are the newest innovation in speed detection equipment for ACT Policing.
The laser can only be used if the police officer is in a stationary vehicle or standing at the side of the road, but the laser can detect the speed of both approaching and receding vehicles.
When the trigger is squeezed, the instrument emits pulses of infrared light in a very narrow beam towards the sighted vehicle. In about one third of a second the pulses strike the target vehicle, are reflected back and analysed. The speed of the vehicle is then displayed for the operator.
Whenever possible the vehicle is stopped at the time and the driver shown the speed reading and the distance from the operator when the reading was taken.
ACT Policing uses 'down the road' radars for speed detection. 'Slant' radar units have been withdrawn from service as they have been superseded by lasers.
Radar units can be used in any police vehicle with a certified speedometer, and can be utilised when the police vehicle is either stationary or mobile.
The two components of a radar unit are the 'head', which is normally attached outside the vehicle, and the computer/display panel, which is mounted inside the vehicle where the radar operator can monitor it.
Radar use in the ACT is in accordance with the legislation, Australian standards and the manufacturer's instructions for the type of radar being used.
Certified police vehicle speedometer
All police vehicles used for traffic enforcement in the ACT are fitted with incremental speedometers which are regularly checked and certified for their accuracy.
A police officer can check the speed of a target vehicle either by following the target vehicle (maintaining a constant distance behind the vehicle), or traveling adjacent to the vehicle.
Using a certified police speedometer is one of the original forms of speed checking carried out by police in the ACT.