Deputy PM backs lower speed limits to reduce emissions, improve road safety

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack is said to be supporting a potential reduction to speed limits in order to decrease emissions and improve road safety.

Australia representatives are set to travel to Sweden next month for the 3rd Global Ministerial Con­ference on Road Safety where they could sign-up to an agreement known as the Stockholm Declaration which proposes that speed limits be reduced to 30km/h in suburban areas “where vulnerable road users and vehicles mix in a frequent and planned manner”.

Mr McCormack was seemingly against such a measure previously saying he was against a “nanny state” approach but could be primed to make a U-turn on the matter, according to The Weekend Australian.

The Deputy PM on Saturday told the paper “lower travel speeds can result­ in lower emissions from vehicles­ but only if traffic-slowing measures maintain smooth drivin­g and do not result in more ­acceleration.”

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has shown support for reducing the speed limit. Source: AAP

“The Australian government supports lowered speed limits to reduce the risk of harm in areas where there are high volumes of pedestrians, cyclists and aged or frail people, such as around aged-care facilities and hospitals, along with schools and childcare centres,” Mr McCormack said.

He added a reduced speed limit would see a reduction in risk but “where there is traffic­ control infrastructure, 50km/h to 60km/h may be more appropriate”.

The Nationals leader, who is also Transport Minister, told the paper he will travel to the two-day conference if his schedule allows but said Australia will be sending representatives.

Sydney's suburb of The Rocks. Source: Getty Images (file pic)

The Stockholm Declaration, which will be presented at the conference’s conclusion, calls for a number of goals to be achieved by 2030.

One of those is reducing road traffic deaths worldwide by 50 per cent and encourage people to use “safer, cleaner, more energy efficient and affordable modes of transport” including cycling and walking as part of a global approach to reduce emissions.

The meeting next month will urge participating countries to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals which include dealing with issues such as climate action, gender equality and reduced inequality.

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