The Northern Territory could soon return to having open speed limits on remote sections of highway after its road toll failed to drop at the same pace as the rest of Australia.
NT Chief Minister Adam Giles is reviewing speed limits on the Stuart, Victoria and Barkly highways as part of an election promise. He has already signalled likely increases to the speed limit on sections of highway and is expected to announce his decision shortly after next week's Territory budget.
Open speed limits were abolished by the former Labor government in 2006 and replaced by a maximum limit of 130km/h.
In the six years since, more people have died on NT roads (307) than in the six years before the change (292).
Fatalities on the Stuart, Victoria and Barkly highways have almost halved since speed limits were introduced, from 62 to 32, but the statistics show the drop is more to do with fewer drink-drivers and the increased use of seatbelts.
The number of speed-related deaths fell from six to four, while the number of alcohol-related deaths fell from 22 to eight and seatbelt-related deaths fell from 19 to nine.
While the NT road toll has increased in the six years since the introduction of speed limits, the Australian road toll for that period has fallen by 14.3 per cent (or 1414 people).
Mr Giles said the government was assessing the findings of three reports before it made a decision.
"The priority goal is to balance having effective and efficient speed limits in place with road safety for all road users," he said.
Scrapping the speed restrictions would return the NT to discretionary limits, similar to high-speed sections of German autobahns. The road fatality rate per 10,000 vehicles is lower in Germany than Australia, despite vast sections of 130km/h and open speed highways.
with Toby Hagon, David McCowen