Watch crash camera 40 km/h vs 50 km/h video
Watch crash camera video of stopping distances at 40 km/h vs 50 km/h (duration: 9 seconds, file size: 535kB).
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A car is travelling at 40 km/h. Another car is travelling at 50 km/h. Both drivers see a child about 27 metres ahead, recognise the danger and brake. The car travelling at 40 km/h will stop safely after 26 metres, avoiding the child. The car travelling at 50 km/h will take an extra nine metres to stop, and will still be travelling at 41 km/h when it hits the child.
Even a small difference in vehicle speed can make a large difference to the probability of serious injury.
If a car hits a pedestrian at 50 km/h the car driver is twice as likely to kill the pedestrian than if the car hits a pedestrian at 40 km/h.
For every extra kilometre per hour of speed:
- the stopping distance increases.
- the time to react and avoid a crash decreases.
- the impact of a crash is more severe on the vehicle, driver, passengers and pedestrians.
- the likelihood of serious injury or death increases.
40 km/h speed limit
The 40 km/h urban limit is part of a nationwide strategy to reduce the incidence of injury and death in high pedestrian traffic areas.
40 km/h speed zones have been introduced since 1991 as part of the Local Area Traffic Management (LATM) schemes. These are installed in areas of high pedestrian activity such as busy CBD areas and small suburban shopping strips.
How will I know I am in a 40 km/h speed limit zone?
Signage and pavement markings will clearly define the start of the 40 km/h pedestrian area including:
- Standard 40 km/h speed signs.
- ‘Pedestrian activity’ plates.
- 40 km/h pavement numerals (ie roads with painted speed limit numerals)
Who decides a 40 km/h speed limit zone?
Typically, 40 km/h pedestrian zones are requested by local councils, community, police and Roads and Maritime Services (replacing Roads and Traffic Authority) and submitted to the Local Traffic Committee.
In addition, Roads and Maritime Services (replacing Roads and Traffic Authority) authorises timed 40km/h speed limits at schools, on buses (as flashing lights on the back of buses) and 40km/h roadwork zone speed limits.
50 km/h speed limit
The 50 km/h speed limit applies to all built-up areas across NSW. A 'built-up area' refers to an area where there are buildings on the land next to the road or there are street lights along the road with a spacing of 100 metres or less for a total length of at least 500 metres or if the road is shorter than 500 metres, for the whole length of the road.
A 50 km/h default limit applies as soon as you turn onto any urban road without a speed sign. Reduced speed limits at school zones, road works and other special areas still apply.
The 50 km/h urban limit is part of a nationwide strategy to reduce the incidence of injury and death on the roads.
International and Australian research shows that even small reductions in vehicle speed can reduce the number of deaths and the severity of injuries resulting from road crashes.