Could speed limits increase in Canada?

In July 2014, British Columbia increased speed limits on 1,300 kilometers of highway to as high as 120 km/h, making speed limits in B.C. the fastest in Canada – prompting some experts to suggest that other provinces should follow suit.

“We think that our roads are safer today and will continue to be safer in the future with the adjustments that we’ve made,” says B.C. Minister of Transportation Todd Stone

Some traffic experts say that governments should change speed limits to match the speed that many are already driving. It’s an idea that has gained favour in other countries around the world as a way to lessen the variability of speed on highways, create better traffic flow and prevent collisions. But some public safety researchers think that we should put the brakes on the trend. B.C. may be the speed leader in Canada, but the province is following a global trend. In the United States, maximum highway speed limits range from 60 to 85 mph (97 to 137 km/h). In Europe, highway speed limits of 130 km/h are common.

According to the B.C. provincial government, a year after the province implemented higher speed limits, most people aren’t driving faster. The 85 percentile remained unchanged on roads affected by the new speeds. B.C.’s move has been controversial in some circles, in part because Stone himself once had his licence revoked for speeding. Not everyone agrees that faster speed limits mean safer roads.

“I think it comes down to basic physics, really,” says Dr. Jeff Brubacher, an emergency room physician and road safety researcher in Vancouver. “If you’re going faster, and you have a crash, you’re going to have more injuries. And that’s just basic kinetic energy. There have been dozens of studies from around the world, really, looking at what happens in terms of injury crashes, fatality crashes, when the speed limits go up. And the overwhelming evidence is that when the speed limits go up, things get worse. More injuries, more fatalities.”

Part of the reason the debate is ongoing is that it’s difficult to determine the degree to which speed limits, road design, increased volume of traffic or other variables contribute to accident statistics.

Anyone who has been involved in a car accident knows that the effects can be far reaching. Severe injuries can happen as a result of even a seemingly minor accident, and the losses you experience, both physically and financially, can last for years.

The lawyers at Harris Law can help you if you have suffered injuries as a result of an automobile accident. 

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