Australia’s Northern Territory is one of the few sacred places in the world where you can drive at unlimited speeds – legally. The region is smack in the middle of the sun-burnt country and is home to Kakadu National Park as well as being almost completely covered in desert. Despite the region’s isolation and wide open landscape, the local government has decided to impose a speed limit of 110km/h on all open roads with 130km/h restricted for 4 of its major highways.
The move comes after the release of statistics from a damning report that found that three times as many people were killed on NT roads than elsewhere in Australia, per capita, with one person dying and nine seriously injured every week. Further, it found that 48% of fatal crashes in the country’s top end were non-alcohol related and that 2,613 cars ran red lights at 11 intersections in just 1 month. New fines and penalties will also be introduced along with more traffic-light cameras.
The region is a popular spot for testing vehicles due to the long stretches of open highways and extremely hot temperatures. Porsche has favored the area because it could run its cars during high temperatures combined with sustained high engine speed, and recently tested its 911 Turbo there. Honda and Ford also confirmed testing in the region, but the new limits are likely to turn away carmakers.
America's Federal Highway Administration has found that there’s no correlation between speed enforcement and traffic safety improvement. Speed unlimited roadways to record a higher accident rate, but only because the roads experience much greater traffic numbers. Per capita there’s not much difference. Now that the NT is off the list of unrestricted roadways, that leaves only stretches of the German inter-city Autobahn, rural parts of the Isle of Man and some roads in India.