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Frequently Asked Questions

Speed Restrictions and Roadworks

While associated delays and disruptions can be frustrating for motorists, speed restrictions in place for road works are a safety requirement when workers and equipment are on site—keeping both road workers and road users safe.

There are times restrictions remain when it appears there is no construction activity. However, safety is just as important and regulations are in place to ensure unnecessary traffic disruptions are avoided.

Why are restrictions often in place when no workers are present, and why do restrictions remain in place when it appears a project is complete?

The Department is obliged to ensure a safe environment for all road workers and road users, and the speed limit applies to any hazardous area where roadworks are progressing, whether workers are present or not.

In some cases, roadworks may appear complete when, in fact, further work such as line marking may be ongoing. The temporary speed limits are in place for the safety of all road users and, whilst not always obvious, are critically important.

All roadworks are undertaken in accordance with the Road Traffic Act 1961, and the Australian Standard AS 1742.3 – Traffic control for works on roads.

Instances where temporary speed limits may be in place also include the requirement for testing to ensure compliance with specific requirements.

For example, the Department often uses a type of asphalt in the surface layer known as Stone Mastic Asphalt (SMA), which is widely used across Australia. SMA has been chosen because it provides a durable and rut resistant surfacing material, suitable for heavily trafficked roads.  Other benefits include its reduced traffic noise and reduced water spray during wet weather.

Due to its high binder content, SMA generally exhibits lower skid resistance following placement, due to excess bitumen on the aggregate surface. During this period (which can be approximately four to six weeks—sometimes longer, depending on traffic volumes and weather), temporary speed restrictions need to remain in place to ensure the safety of the public until the excess bitumen has sufficiently worn. Tests are undertaken to determine when the road surface is safe to reinstate the posted speed limit. The test results, together with appropriate risk analysis, ensure posted speed limits are reinstated as quickly as reasonably possible, and sometimes incrementally.

The Department appreciates the patience and understanding of road users during this time.

What happens when incorrect speed limits remain in place at roadworks?

Companies responsible for traffic management during roadworks face fines of up to $1,250 if incorrect speed limit signage is in place when work is not taking place and there is no requirement from a safety perspective.

These regulations, under the Road Traffic Act, ensure that contractors do not leave speed limit signs up when they are not needed—holding up traffic and creating unnecessary disruptions.