Push for major speed limit change in Aussie state to 'reduce travel times'

A petition to Queensland parliament to increase speed limits on highways could 'improve traffic flow and reduce congestion', proponents claim.

Cars on busy queensland highway
Queensland drivers are urging the state government to increase the speed limit on highways from 110km/h to 130km/h. Source: Getty

Aussies in one state are calling for speed limit changes on major highways, increasing the upper limit to 130km/h for driver on the open road. It's argued faster speeds could help "improve traffic flow and reduce congestion" — but not everyone's onboard.

A petition launched by Queensland resident Stewart Collins, put forward to the state government, argues the current 110km/h limit — which is applied in all states and territories besides the Northern Territory, which has a limit of 130km/h — is no longer suitable, as it was set 50 years ago before "highways were surveyed, engineered and constructed with safety in mind".

The petition was launched in April and currently has 2,400 signatures. It will close in August when it may be considered by state authorities. Collins argues the limits were set based on the braking-ability of a 1967 Ford Cortina in 1974, but says modern vehicles "are infinitely better than they were" at the time, arguing they're much safer and capable of travelling at higher speeds.

"The majority of drivers are equipped to deal with going 130km/h. We’ll never get rid of stupid, but it is time people should be treated as adults," the Townsville resident told Drive.com.au when launching the petition.

"It would reduce travel times, so the transport industry should be happy about it, there would be less wear and tear on the roads – so therefore fewer repairs needed, it just makes sense."

The Northern Territory is the only state or territory that has a highway speed limit of more than 110km/h. The speed limit on open roads is 110km/h unless sign posted otherwise, but on major highways including the Stuart, Barkly, Victoria and Arnhem Highways the maximum speed limit is 130km/h.

Previously, Victorian politician Bill Tilley proposed the same change on highways throughout the southern state also arguing that "modern cars are safer and the road is in a good condition". But the idea was shut down by then Premier Daniel Andrews, who noted the rising road toll that continues to plague the country.

Speed limit road sign 110 kilometres per hour, empty highway in outback Australia
Speed limit road sign 110 kilometres per hour, empty highway in outback Australia

According to the Department of Transport and Main Roads, "speed limits play an important role in managing road safety". And for this reason, TMR is against the change, insisting "roads in Queensland have not been designed for 130 km/h operating speeds".

In 2023, there were 276 fatalities as a result of crashes within Queensland, and while that's fewer than the year before, it's almost 5 per cent greater than the previous five-year average. TMR confirmed that over 25 per cent of lives lost on Queensland's roads were due to drivers exceeding the speed limit.

"Road design practice in Queensland is based on a design speed. This determines a range of critical design parameter values for design elements such as stopping distance, sight distance, horizontal curve radius, carriageway width and cross-section, vertical geometry and pavement superelevation," a spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.

"For the setting of speed limits, many factors are considered, including; crash history, traffic volumes and prevailing speeds, road function, construction standard, and abutting development.

"A significant increase in speed limit would require design checks by a registered professional engineer ... to see if they would support a higher operating speed. As roads in Queensland have not been designed for 130 km/h operating speeds, it is unlikely they would meet the design parameters."

While there have been "significant improvements to the safety features of modern vehicles, which have led to significant reductions in road trauma," TMR notes that "the Australian vehicle fleet is varied, including older vehicles without such safety features".

The Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ) agreed, telling Yahoo "Increasing highway speed limits to 130km/h won’t save drivers much time but will increase the risk of fatal or serious injury crashes".

"At a time when we are facing surging road trauma and an increasing road toll, governments and the community need to be doing everything in their power to make roads safer. A crash at 130km/h would have much higher forces than a crash at 100km/h or 110km/h, resulting in more severe injuries," a spokesperson said.

"Queensland highways are not designed for 130km/h speed limits. Our regional highways, such as the Bruce, lack adequate safety features for their current speed limits, let alone higher speeds.

"Increasing highway speed limits goes against both international and national road safety efforts to reduce road trauma."

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.