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NT govt slams breaks on open speed zones

AAP logoAAP 3/11/2016 Lucy Hughes Jones

Territorians will no longer be able to drive around highways at very high speeds, and the top cop wants to confiscate cars from drunk drivers.

The NT government will scrap unlimited speed limits from November 21 and re-introduce a 130 km/h limit on the Stuart Highway between Alice Springs and Ali Curung.

Deputy Chief Minister Nicole Manison says that's already the highest speed limit for any Australian jurisdiction.

"Our fatality rate is the highest in the country. Speed is a contributing factor to 25 per cent of deaths on Territory roads and we must do everything we can to reduce that rate," she said.

The move is backed by the wider medical community, with NT surgeon David Read calling it a step in the right direction.

"Territorians are three times more likely to die on the road than other Australians," Dr Read said.

"Surgeons welcome this decision and the collaborative approach towards road safety, but more will need to be done."

He said the Territory still has very low seat belt usage and very high drink driving rates while better speed limit enforcement is needed in remote areas.

Some Central Australians fear the change will hurt the economy as car manufacturers use the open speed limits for testing and marketing.

But Ms Manison said vehicle testing companies can apply for permits to bypass the new rules.

"We have made it clear that we are open for business with them," she said.

In 2006, the NT's then Labor Government reduced open speed limits to 130km/h.

In the six years that followed, more deaths were recorded than the six years before, however a variety of factors may have contributed to those crashes.

The move delivers a pre-election promise after the new Labor government's landslide victory in August.

Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw wants to confiscate cars from Territorians who repeatedly booze up behind the wheel.

Mr Kershaw confirmed he raised the idea of wheel clamping or impounding vehicles from repeat drink driving offenders with the previous Country Liberals government.

"It is something that we'll be raising with our (new) minister," he told Mix 104.9 Radio.

"We do need to stop people dying on our roads."

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