Top Gear Australia calls for 130kph speed limits

Tomorrow night Top Gear Australia floats the idea that speed limits on our interstate freeways should be increased to 130kph, in line with European roads.

Hosts Ewen Page, Steve Pizzati and Shane Jacobson debate the idea that the lower limit adds to fatigue.

The Northern Territory had no limits on its rural highways until it introduced a 130kph limit about five years ago.

“Things coming at you quicker actually means that you’re going to be more attentive to the road,” says Steve Pizzati.

But most of our freeways haven’t changed limits since 1972, says Page, when our cars were less equipped.

“No legislation ever takes into account the fact that cars have improved enormously over that time,” he says.

The Stig demonstrates a current model braking on a wet road has a much better ability to stop than an old ’70s Falcon.

“We’re still coming up with road rules based on when that car was new. It’s dumb,” he says.

“The standard of driver training in this country is woeful,” adds Pizzati.

“To the Federal Transport Minister and the State Transport Ministers we’d like two things.

“On the interstate freeways we’d like the speed limit to go from 110 to 130, like in the Northern Territory, like in the rest of Europe.

“But the most important thing, listen to the people. Give us Driver Training please! We need it.”

It airs at 8:30pm tomorrow night on Nine.


  1. First of all… With a speed limit of 130km/h or 150 or 110, doesn’t mean you have to drive that speed all the time. You should drive to the conditions, the road and put some thought into what what you are doing.

    Our roads/motorways are fine for the speed and are way less crowded than most European motorways, however the drivers really aren’t up to scratch. Most are very inconsiderate and self centred and do not have much if any consideration for others on the road.

    On top of all this the cars need some sort of regular check up to keep them road worthy…. most of the 3rd world has better standards in this matter.

    As for the speed limit, 110km/h is an arbitrary number that looked good to some old man in a office once, if it was based on some actual scientific research it wouldn’t be that. Its 110km/h cos on country roads the limit is 100km/h a nice round number but on motorway it has to be more so well add a nice number to that and make it 110km/h.

  2. @P – Mark Skaife said much the same thing not that long ago, I’d trust his judgment over the TG guys any day.

    130kph seams to be the sweet spot for speed v fatigue, most cars are set up to give their best fuel economy at a set top speed when in top gear (no bun intended) so will 130kph give you better or worse mileage than 100-110kph for the average driver? Maybe they will test that tonight?

    I agree that driver training needs to be improved and it should be on going, some states have yearly vehicle inspections, maybe we need yearly spot checks of drivers as well, along with advance driver training?

    Maybe the government can use some of the billions it will raise from carbon tax to improve the roads, make it cheaper to upgrade old cars and give everyone advance driver training?

  3. Roger Griffin

    What is needed is driver education, by Driving Instructors, not driving schools. Then a lift speed limits on Freeways. Our interstate roads are up to a standard that will
    alow a speed of 130/140 KPH. This will stop driver fatigue as more attention would be required. Also todays cars are designed for a higher speed than 100/110 KPH.

  4. If Australia’s highways were to meet or better the standards of Europe’s Autoroutes /Autostradas / Autobahns/ etc, then 130 kph would be very welcome. Having travelled extensively in France on their Autoroutes, I think that it is important to take into account that many of France’s Autoroutes are toll roads, so often it is user-pays to get 130 kph. Also, there is a range of speed limits such as 110 kph if it is raining, a maximum speed limit of 90 kph for thereabouts for trucks / semis / caravans which is okay on a 3 lane Autoroute but can be problematic on 2 lane sections particularly when a semi overtakes another semi up an incline where the differential speed between the 2 trucks is about half a kilometre per hour.

  5. Why do these people always look toward Europe as the guiding light? We have completly different standards of road.

    Pretty simplistic comments by these Top Gear people. Are they motoring experts anyway?

  6. Like the “higher speed limits, more driver training” idea. I get so sick of councils lowering speed limits on roads you can safely do 100km/h on. Yet this one road in particular I’m thinking of nearly always had some old woman sitting on freaking 60-80km/h. Driving home from a ten hour shift where I started at 5am was never fun when that happened!

  7. I agree. But only on certain roads and the maintence on those roads would need to improve. But they should do that anyway! Regardless of speed limit. With an increase in cars and trucks, maintence should be improved! But that makes sense and costs money!

  8. yes they need to improve driver traning and fix the roads and then they can lift the speed limit i also agree that european roads ore better than ours we hired a ford focus in europ and we were doing up to 170kph

  9. It’s all very well to say that Europe has speed limits of 130 km/h and that we should copy them, but it completely ignores the conditions of Australian roads.

    Take the Newell Highway, the main road from Melbourne to Brisbane, for example – it has heaps of potholes, generally uneven and worn surfaces, collapsing shoulders, and T junctions (literally, you need to come to a complete stop, indicate, and make a turn onto the road you were supposedly already on!). The Pacific Highway is a bit better, although with some dodgy sections, and the Hume Highway is generally of a decent standard. None, however, come anywhere near the standards of European inter-city motorways.

  10. Here in the NT we have 130km speed limits on the main highway but I always drive at around 120km, mainly due to it being more economical on fuel. I think all Australian highways should be 130km but agree that roads need to be improved. We just need a good government that fixes potholes and blind spots, rather than keep reducing the speed limits. It’s about time that they talk about this and take it seriously.

  11. Couldn’t agree more. They could lower the limit on all roads and see just as many fatalities from driver inexperience and/or poor judgement. It’s about skills, quality of roads, quality of vehicles and less focus in telling people to stare at their speedometer as in doing so means less attention on the roads.

  12. I recently did a road trip around north Queensland and the roads were in much better condition than I was expecting. Other cars slow you down but around atherton & heading west where there are hardly any cars you can easily do that sort of speed safely.

  13. Kinda agree with these comments. 130 on Interstate freeways would be acceptable; especially on such long stretches of boring road 110 can really become quite a drag and feels quite slow. I think it definately adds to fatigue.
    What is also important to note though is road conditions (not weather) but the quality of the road needs to be good to ensure it can be equipped to everyone driving at 130; like the autobahns throughout Germany.

  14. Armchair Analyst

    I agree with this story indeed. I can remember Mark Skaife did a story on this topic for Sunday Night. I agreed with the experts in europe then and i still do now. Not only will we get to a destination faster but also safer providing people can handle driving that fast, and that is where the correct driver training comes in. the ministers for transport and the ministers for education need to get together from every state and territory and the federal government and make sure they find money to introduce drivers education in high school across the nation. One of the biggest and most common reasons why people are involved in an accident is because they are not trained properly. If you introduced drivers ed in schools not only would it be a popular subject but also it would create a nation of compotent and safe drivers. Come on you old dinosaurs make it happen.

  15. Actually this is a good topic and ITA. I remember Clarkson testing a Merc, okay not you average car for Australia but it stop in a shorter distance than the UK rules but doing double the speed, 120mph (193kph).

    IMO most interstate highways should be 130kph but lower in other areas depending on road conditions and traffic.

    I’ve driven in the NT at 150-160kph before the limit was introduce, I wouldn’t recommend it for extended periods. It’s stressful and can kill your fuel economy.

  16. Guys, seriously, before we raise the limit we should fix the rotten roads. Try hitting a pothole on the Hume at 130kmh and see what happens. Euro roads are billiard table smooth, a good reason you can drive at those speeds safely.

    Yes, driver training in Australia is terrible.

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