1 Feb 2014

NT trials open speed limit on highway

9:14 pm on 1 February 2014

An open speed limit trial has begun on a 200km section of the Northern Territory's main highway in Australia, but doctors have called for it to be scrapped.

Transport Minister Peter Styles says the section of road, south of Barrow Creek to just north of Alice Springs, has undergone a major upgrade and seen a low number of speed related crashes since 2001.

Mr Style said that the Territory had a unique road network with long distances and low traffic volumes.

"With the implementation of this trial we are putting the responsibility back on motorists," he said.

But the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, the Australian Medical Association NT and the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine say the trial poses significant dangers to motorists and pedestrians.

They say there's strong evidence worldwide linking speed to accidents and claimed the NT government had brought in the trial for political expediency.

In an open letter to the NT government the groups have called for the trial to be scrapped.

"The government has said that the reasons for this trial are evidence-based, yet it will not publicly release the reports cited as evidence supporting the trial," they wrote.

"There is no evidence to support the trial and it should be scrapped."

The minister has warned people not to drive dangerously or without due care and said speed limits still applied to learner and provisional drivers and heavy vehicles.