VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The provincial government is lowering speed limits on 15 sections of highway by 10km/h.
They include Highway 99 from Horseshoe Bay to Pemberton, Highway 1 between Whatcom Road and Hope, and parts of the 97C.
The top speed has not been reduced for the Coquihalla, where variable speed limits are in operation.
Back in 2014, the BC Liberal government raised speed limits along 33 segments. Now, the BC NDP government has had a chance to look at how collisions have changed on those stretches and has decided to roll back the speed limit on nearly half of those areas.
Last month, a study found fatal crashes have doubled on some routes where maximum speeds were boosted.
“We are making every effort now … to make sure that people can travel safely on our highways,” Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said. “Nobody should be dying on our highways. It’s horrible that there have been serious accidents and there have been deaths.”
The sections of highway where speed limits will be lowered are:
- Highway 1: Cowichan Bay to Nanaimo – 90 km/h to 80 km/h
- Highway 1: Whatcom Road to Hope – 110 km/h to 100 km/h
- Highway 1: Boston Bar to Jackass Mountain – 100 km/h to 90 km/h
- Highway 1: Tobiano to Savona – 100 km/h to 90 km/h
- Highway 1: Chase to Sorrento – 100 km/h to 90 km/h
- Highway 3: Sunday Summit to Princeton – 90 km/h to 80 km/h
- Highway 7: Agassiz to Hope – 100 km/h to 90 km/h
- Highway 19: Parksville to Campbell River – 120 km/h to 110 km/h
- Highway 19: Bloedel to Sayward – 100 km/h to 90 km/h
- Highway 97A: Grindrod to Sicamous – 90 km/h to 80 km/h
- Highway 97C: Merritt to Aspen Grove – 110 km/h to 100 km/h
- Highway 97C: Aspen Grove to Peachland – 120 km/h to 110 km/h
- Highway 99: Horseshoe Bay to Squamish – 90 km/h to 80 km/h
- Highway 99: Squamish to Whistler – 100 km/h to 90 km/h
- Highway 99: Whistler to Pemberton – 90 km/h to 80 km/h
“The remaining routes did not show higher accident rates and the speed limits will remain the same,” reads a news release from the Ministry of Transportation.
The Ministry says staff are starting to change the speed limit signs right away and hope to have all 339 signs replaced by the end of the week.
BC Trucking Association happy but disappointed more isn’t being done
The BC Trucking Association supports the reductions in speed limits. But a rep suggests it’s not quite the right solution for safety in that industry.
“We’re happy that they’ve done what they’ve done. But they should be doing more,” Dave Earle, head of the association, told NEWS 1130.
He says his association has been pushing for onboard speed limiters to be required in all commercial vehicles for years.
“We welcome the steps that they’re taking, but we call on them to take that next step and to engage us, and to start moving on that issue that we’ve been pursuing for a long, long time.”
Earle says his members want a maximum speed of 105km/h for commercial trucks in BC. He tells us all modern trucks to have the limiters already built in to their software — they simply have to be activated.
“Every commercial vehicle 1996 or newer actually has this built into their software. The process to do it is literally as simple as when the truck is in for their inspection, the speed limiter is turned on. There’s no extra hardware … cost is beyond minimal,” he explained.
“What that does is it prevents the vehicle from travelling at a speed greater than that limit. We’re calling for 105km/h.”
According to Earle, when Ontario introduced speed limiters, there was a reduction of 70 per cent of serious incidents involving commercial vehicles.
“We’re disappointed that we weren’t involved in the process,” Earle said.
“We look at it as a real missed opportunity to actually do some really good initiatives and work,” he added.
Reducing speed limits won’t solve problem of people driving too fast, argues SENSE BC
Chris Thompson with SENSE BC, a group lobbying against speed limit reductions, says reducing limits or posting variable changes during bad weather — as is done on the Coquihalla Highway — won’t keep bad drivers from travelling too fast for conditions.
“It was a lot worse of a year with respect to precipitation in 2018 than it was in 2014, so of course the crash rates are going to go up … And if you get more rainy or snowier days, you’re going to have more crashes, regardless of the number you’ve got painted on a reflective sign at the side of the road.”
He argues the data used to make the changes announced today shows collision rates are actually low.
“Only two per cent of crashes were caused by exceeding the speed limit and that means only two per cent of crashes were caused by speeding, in and of itself. The rest of them were driver inattentiveness, driving too fast for conditions — which is different than speeding — and factors like wind and rain and snow.”
The province will also start using road weather information systems connected to message signs on Highway 99 from Horseshoe Bay to Whistler. It says this will give driver real-time information about the route and conditions.
– With files from Sonia Aslam and Kurtis Doering