BC rolls back speed limits on 570 km of highway
Tuesday, November 6, 2018 9:30 AM
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 includes 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.
A summary report of the three year post-implementation review can be found here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/2018-speed-review
The Rural Safety and Speed Review: from 2013 to today
In 2013, the ministry initiated a review of over 9,100 kilometres of highway around the province. The Rural Safety and Speed Review included four key components: speed limits; winter tires; slower-moving vehicles; and wildlife hazards. For each component the ministry conducted public consultation, with over 2,300 total participants, as well as technical analysis by the ministry’s engineers.
In 2014, as a result of the review, the following actions were taken:
- Speed limits were increased on 33 segments of highway covering 1,300 kilometres, based on the 85th percentile speeds for each corridor.
- Legislation changes were made to the winter tire definition, along with modernized regulations for studded tires and chains and the installation of new winter-tire highway signs.
- Installation of variable speed limit signs on key sections of the Coquihalla, the Trans-Canada, and the Sea to Sky highways to reduce weather-related crashes by helping drivers know when to slow down, depending on current conditions.
- Updated legislation to clarify “Keep Right Except to Pass” requirements, as well as improved signage and pavement marking to direct slower moving drivers to use the right lane.
- Several wildlife collision mitigation actions, including LED wildlife signs in specific locations with a history of wildlife crashes and two wildlife detection pilot systems on Highway 3.
In 2016, after collecting one year of data, ministry engineers reviewed all 33 highway sections that received speed limit increases. As a result, the following actions were taken:
- Speed limits were rolled back on two corridors: Highway 1, from Hope to Cache Creek, and on Highway 5A, from Princeton to Merritt.
- On the 14 sections where the crash rates increased, the ministry invested in added safety features like improved road markings, better signage, new rumble strips, variable speed signs and wildlife safety measures.
Based on the recently completed review of three years of data, the speed limits are being rolled back by 10 km/h on the following 15 highway corridors that have seen any increase in collisions:
- 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 following 16 corridors showed no reduction in safety, and speed limits will remain the same:
- Highway 1: Salmon Arm to Revelstoke – 100 km/h
- Highway 1: Revelstoke to Golden – 100 km/h
- Highway 3: Hope to Coquihalla – 110 km/h
- Highway 3: Sunshine Valley to Manning Park East Boundary – 100 km/h
- Highway 5: Hope to Kamloops – 120 km/h
- Highway 5: Heffley to Little Fort – 100 km/h
- Highway 6: New Denver to Hills – 90 km/h
- Highway 6: Summit Lake to Nakusp – 100 km/h
- Highway 19: Campbell River to Bloedel – 90 km/h
- Highway 19: Port McNeill to Port Hardy – 100 km/h
- Highway 33: McCulloch Road to Black Mountain – 100 km/h
- Highway 33: Rock Creek to Westbridge – 100 km/h
- Highway 97: Cache Creek to 100 Mile House – 110 km/h
- Highway 97: Swan Lake to Monte Creek – 90 km/h
- Highway 97A: Armstrong to Enderby – 100 km/h
- Highway 99: Lillooet to Cache Creek – 100 km/h