Are you ready for Rural Intersection Activated Warning Signs?
Have you got a RIAWS in your area? If you are in Canterbury or Manawatu, the answer is yes. Now that the last confusing Limited Speed Zones are all but phased out, enter the RIAWS. There are two trial sites:

• SH 1 and Route 56 at Himatangi, north of Foxton.
• Intersection of SH73 and Buchanans Road in Canterbury

According to the NZTA, “When a vehicle on Buchanans Road approaches the intersection, the electronic signs on SH73, about 150m each side of the intersection, will flash and display a 70km/h speed limit. Traffic on the state highway will need to slow to this speed, thus reducing the impact speed should a collision occur. If there are no vehicles on the Buchanans Road approach, the open road speed limit of 100km/h will apply.”

The best news about this is that at least there will be some certainty about what the speed limit is, similar to the variable speed limit on SH1 climbing out of Wellington towards Johnsonville. The question that is yet to be answered – and I’ll head out to have a look – is whether there is enough warning to slow down for the short stretch of road affected. Drifting at indiscriminate speed, whilst evaluating the hazard for yourself will be a no – no, but this is exactly what most do when approaching a roadworks sign with no sign of a wheelbarrow or road grader. I give you a high probability of earning a speeding ticket in the coming months for failing to adhere to the notice.

GPS monitoring of speed events in restricted speed areas.
All of this raises the question again of why speeding in restricted areas cannot be accurately monitored remotely. As any veteran of GPS speed monitoring can tell you, if a truck is shown as speeding at 96 km/h you can be certain he is above the speed limit, no matter where he is. But if he is travelling at 76km/h the answer becomes less clear. The reason for this is the disparity between the physical placement of the speed limit sign at the side of the road and where that is shown on the map in your GPS system. Even if the distance between the physical sign, and the map speed boundary, is only 100 meters, if your GPS system reports discrepancy between truck speed and speed limit, in that 100m buffer a truck legitimately travelling at 76km/h, could be shown as speeding if the map thinks he is still within the 60km/h area he has just left. Given that most speeding tickets that come up in discussion are issued in 50, 60, 70 and 80 km/h zones, this is a frustrating glitch in the management system which also reflects a significant impact on your ORS rating. Going back to the above RIAWS, to pre-empt a question that is sure to arise, no, there is not a simple way to monitor your fleet’s compliance with this. The closest you could come would be to geofence the area and enforce 70km/h for any of your drivers travelling through it, regardless of whether the sign is flashing or not. I’m not sure that is a practical option given the nature of the traffic on the Foxton straights.

MPH speedos
An article in the NZ Herald this morning shows an Auckland operator who has installed in cab lights to provide real time feedback to drivers. One of the triggers to turn a LED from Green to Red is exceeding the 50km/h speed limit. This is being welcomed by those who drive the European models which are afflicted with the “absence of a 50km/h mark on speedometers.” I see two challenges with this;

• If a driver hasn’t yet worked out that 31mph equates to 50km/h – the speed limit on the majority of his driving area, will a flashing light really help?
• The flashing light will be subject to the same inconsistencies of mapping discussed above so the driver could be falsely penalised, when his end of month “red LED” events are counted.

As ever, the limitations, as well as the possibilities, of the technology need to be well understood, to be used as an effective management tool.

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