Since the BC Liberal government raised speed limits in 2014, serious crashes have been on the rise
THE British Columbia government is lowering speed limits on 15 sections of highway in the province to keep people safer and reduce the chance of speed-related collisions.
“We know people want to get where they’re going quickly. Our job is to help make sure they also get there safely,” said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Since the former government raised speed limits in 2014, serious crashes have been on the rise. By rolling back speed limits slightly, our goal is to reduce accidents, keep roads open and protect the lives of British Columbians.”
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has thoroughly reviewed three years’ worth of data on 33 segments and 1,300 kilometres of highway, where speed limits were increased as part of the 2014 Rural Safety and Speed Review.
As a result, 15 sections of highway, totalling 570 kilometres, will have speed limits rolled back by 10 km/h. Along with the two corridors that were lowered in 2016, this represents 660 kilometres of B.C. highways where speed limits are being rolled back. The remaining routes did not show higher accident rates and the speed limits will remain the same, including the Coquihalla where variable speed limits are in operation.
“Speeding has been one of the top three factors contributing to car crashes, especially in rural and remote areas of B.C.” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer. “Research has shown that reducing speed lowers the number of crashes and severity of injuries, so I am very supportive of the speed limit reductions announced today. I look forward to the safety measures that will be implemented on B.C. roads, and will continue to work with the Road Safety Strategy Steering Committee to advocate for initiatives that will help keep all road users in B.C. healthy and safe.”
Ministry staff considered all contributing factors in serious highway collisions. This included speed, distracted driving, wildlife, changing weather and people driving too fast for conditions.
“The BC Trucking Association is very supportive of the government’s decision to roll back speed limits on selected highway segments,” said Dave Earle, President and CEO of the association. “The stopping distance for heavy commercial vehicles increases at higher speeds, as does the force of impact, so safety measures that help reduce these risks for both commercial and passenger vehicle drivers are important. As well as safety, lower speeds mean greater fuel efficiency and fewer greenhouse gas emissions, a welcome side effect worth noting.”
On all corridors where collisions increased, the RCMP will be boosting its enforcement to make sure people are respecting posted speed limits and driving safely.
“BC RCMP Traffic Services members will be doing our part to enforce the reduced speed limits. Slowing down can significantly reduce the severity of a collision and the chance of drivers being severely injured or killed,” said RCMP Inspector Tim Walton, Officer in Charge, Island District Traffic Services. “As we shift into winter driving mode, police are reminding drivers to obey speed limits, adopt safe and defensive driving habits, and to drive sober and distraction-free.”
As a result of the review, the ministry will also employ and use road weather information systems connected to dynamic message signs on Highway 99, from Horseshoe Bay to Whistler, to give drivers real-time road information so they can better drive to conditions.
* The top three contributing factors for segments with increased collisions are driver inattentiveness, road conditions and driving too fast for conditions.
* On the Coquihalla, 46% of serious collisions were caused by driver inattentiveness and driving too fast for conditions.
* On 14 of the 33 segments reviewed, the average operating speed either stayed the same or decreased after speed limits were increased, including the Coquihalla.