12/29/2006Australia Loses Its Autobahn
The Northern Territory, Australia government is ending unlimited speed freeways, doubling traffic fines and setting up new speed traps.
Australia's autobahn, the rural stretches of Northern Territory highways free of any artificial speed limits, ends Monday as the government imposes a number of measures to shore up revenue. The government will impose a 130km/h (80 MPH) speed limit on the Stuart, Arnhem, Victoria and Barkly highways and a 110km/h (68 MPH) speed limit on all other roads, unless otherwise marked lower.
The lowered speed limits will be combined with reinstatement of the Traffic Branch that the Country Liberal Party government abolished in 1991. This revived force will operate speed traps to issue newly doubled fines for speeding and choosing not to wear a seatbelt. Red light cameras will begin automated ticketing operations collecting a doubled fine. The government will also begin a demerit point system to allow insurance companies to charge drivers more.
Some prominent Northern Territory officials spoke out against the change.
"There is no clear link between speed on the open road and our fatalities," Opposition Deputy Leader Terry Mills told ABC Radio. "They're largely attributed to alcohol and the failure to wear seatbelts, so it would be a very naive approach to attack this issue when we need to stand by Territorians and ensure that we leave things as they are."