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More than 17,000 people have voiced their opposition to radical speed limit reductions for SH6 between Nelson and Blenheim, showing how out of touch the Government is with motorists and regional New Zealand, National MPs Chris Bishop and Dr Nick Smith say.

The MPs today received a petition containing more than 17,000 signatures opposed to reducing the limit from 100kmh to 80kmh on long, straight stretches of the highway.

National’s Transport spokesperson Chris Bishop said the huge petition, along with strong opposition from the Automobile Association, mayors, councils, the Road Transport Association and local Chambers of Commerce exposed a flawed proposal and a flawed process.

“Motorists are being hit with big increases in fuel taxes and road user charges at a time when the Government is cutting investment in state highway improvements by 70 per cent.

“The answer to better road safety between Nelson and Blenheim is not these blanket speed reductions. It is increased investment in road improvements, including more passing lanes.

“National is not opposed to speed limit changes that are evidence-based and focused on the most dangerous stretches of road.

“My concern is the anti-car culture being directed by this Government and the blanket cuts in speed limits, of which many are on long, straight stretches of highway.

“The reductions proposed for SH6 between Nelson and Blenheim are just part of the Government’s broader programme that will see these sorts of blanket reductions nationwide.

“National will push back on these proposals between Nelson and Blenheim, and insist on a more evidenced-based approach to the setting of speed limits.   

Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith said he had been overwhelmed by the strength of local opposition to the blanket speed reductions.

He commended the petitioner, Stephanie Drewery, on her efforts.

“I do not object to the smart, new speed signs adjacent to schools on SH6 that target the times that children are most at risk.

“The parts of the Government’s proposal that people are objecting to is the long, straight stretches of 100kmh that are proposed to be cut to 80kmh.”

Dr Smith said he would be taking the petition to Parliament this week for presentation, and it would be referred to the Transport Select Committee.

Mr Bishop said he was also concerned about the Government’s blind spot on drug-impaired driving, which has been a significant cause of increased fatalities in Nelson and Marlborough.

“National would immediately introduce random roadside drug testing to improve road safety.”

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