The view from a car as it drives along a country road, with the road and trees blurred due to speed.

Published on 12 May 2023

Speed kills

A small increase in travel time during your next drive can help save a life, says City of Onkaparinga Mayor Moira Were ahead of National Road Safety Week.

“We need to do everything we can to not only protect ourselves, but our loved ones and the community too, as we all do our bit to halt the grim start to South Australia’s road toll in 2023,” Mayor Were said.

“There have been 48 fatalities on SA’s road so far, compared to 71 for the entirety of 2022, and Onkaparinga’s communities have been directly affected, with fatal accidents occurring recently in our city.

“The most effective and swift way we can reduce this road trauma is to lower our speeds.”

Mayor Were’s plea is backed by research—and SA’s Road Safety Strategy—which show speed is the single greatest influence on the forces experienced by the human body in a crash, and that even small decreases in travel speeds lead to significant reductions and trauma.

It’s clear lower speeds:

  • allow road users more time to assess hazards and avoid a crash
  • reduce both the reaction time and vehicle braking distance
  • make it less likely that a driver will lose control
  • reduce the impact forces in the event of a crash and the crash severity.

“But still people think it’s worth speeding a little to get where they’re going,” Were says.

“We know the risk of a fatal crash approximately doubles with each 5km/h increase in speed on a 60km/h speed limited road, or with each 10km/h increase in speed on higher speed rural roads.

“We also know on most trips speeding will save very little time. For example, on a 10-kilometre journey, you’d only save 46 seconds by increasing your average speed from 60km/h to 65km/h—not to mention when travelling faster you’re using more fuel and upsetting the travel flow.

“This assumes vehicles maintain their travel speeds for the length of a journey, when the reality is that vehicles need to speed up and slow down as they negotiate features in the road such as curves and intersections.

“I urge everyone to keep these things in mind the next time you take the wheel. It’s simply not worth racing the clock—enjoy your morning cuppa or your favourite podcast a little longer instead to make sure everyone gets home safely.”

Road safety in Onkaparinga

Improving road safety across the City of Onkaparinga is a major priority of the council, with a number of projects recently completed or underway to help save lives and reduce the incidence of crashes.

For example, City of Onkaparinga is working collaboratively with the state government to improve road safety at 21 intersections across the McLaren Vale region following a $4.2 million state government election commitment from Member for Mawson, Leon Bignell.

The council has also secured $1.55 million in federal government Black Spot funding to upgrade a 700-metre section of Piggott Range Road, Chandlers Hill, that has a history of crashes.

These projects follow a range of recent school crossing projects, which saw thousands of Onkaparinga school students return to safer schools in 2023.

Mayor Were said council was constantly looking at ways to improve road safety.

“Many of our rural roads in the Adelaide Hills region are currently 80km/h, for example, and these roads have curves, crests, intersections and concealed driveways, and there are often hazards such as trees close to the road,” she said.

“Over time, growth in housing development increases the number of cars, pedestrians and cyclists on the road, so we regularly have residents approaching us requesting speed limits to be reduced where they live.

“While the Department for Infrastructure and Transport is responsible for approving all speed limit changes in SA, we can certainly look at reviewing speed limits and engaging with our communities on this where appropriate in future.”


Speed facts

Towards Zero Together – South Australia’s Road Safety Strategy

National Road Safety Week