Speed limits could go up – or down – on some provincial highways as a result of a review announced by B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone.

Speed limits could go up – or down – on some provincial highways as a result of a review announced by B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone.

Transportation Minister revs up B.C. speed limit reform debate

Todd Stone announces formal review of highway speed limits, citing better roads, safer cars, new risk research

Transportation Minister Todd Stone wants B.C. residents to weigh in on a potential increase in highway speed limits now under consideration.

Stone announced the formal review of speed limits Friday in Kamloops although he had previously indicated it was coming and technical work is already underway.

The Coquihalla Highway already has a speed limit of 110 kilometres per hour but traffic there does an average speed of 118, while drivers routinely exceed the posted limit of 90 or 100 on many other provincial highways.

“There’s no question the Coquihalla is a prime candidate for an adjustment in the speed limit,” Stone said, also listing sections of Highway 1 in the Lower Mainland and around Kamloops as well as the Cariboo Connector towards Prince George.

It’s been a decade since B.C. last reviewed speed limits.

Stone said any increases would involve mainly rural provincial highways between communities, not highways in urban areas of the Lower Mainland, although which specific corridors to adjust will be subject to public input.

He said a higher speed limit in some stretches of highway has been made possible by billions of dollars in major road upgrades since the last review in 2003, including 180 additional kilometres of four- or six-lane highway.

He also said vehicles are “much safer today than 10 years ago” as a result of traction stability control, anti-lock brakes and other improvements.

Stone cited a 28 per cent drop in injury-causing collisions since 2003.

And he said research increasingly suggests the greatest danger isn’t necessarily speeding itself, but driving at a much different speed than most other drivers.

A minority of 15 per cent of drivers who don’t keep up with the flow or who speed excessively are at greater risk of a crash than the other 85 per cent of drivers who may be going somewhat over the posted speed limit, he said.

Stone stressed decreases in the speed limit are also possible.

“This review is not about increasing speed limits, it’s about making sure we have the right speed limits.”

And he said there will be “no Autobahn” in B.C. where speed limits are lifted altogether.

“I am not interested in making any changes that are going to compromise the safety of motorists.”

He said one option could be variable speed limits that are higher in the day and lower at night.

The review will pull in fresh research from around the world, and closely consider factors unique to B.C., like its geography and high mountain passes.

The risk of crashes with wildlife will also be a key consideration.

Bright signs that warn of wildlife at night – potentially activated by sensors that detect animals near the highway – are among various options the ministry will consider to counter that risk, particularly on highways where posted limits might rise.

Stone said other technologies being tried elsewhere include automated sirens that scare wildlife off roads in areas where they pose a frequent hazard.

The speed limit review aims to generate recommendations by next spring, when the Legislature reconvenes.

Public forums on the issue will be held in Kamloops, Chilliwack, Vancouver, Nanaimo, Prince George, Dawson Creek, Cranbrook and Kelowna starting in November, with potentially more sites still to be added.

One group advocating for higher speed limits is Sense BC, which was behind a recent viral video making the case for change:

Sense BC’s Ian Tootill said even a 10 kilometre an hour increase on the Coquihalla to 120 wouldn’t be enough to match the prevailing speeds in summer.

“I’m not suggesting the Coquihalla should be 150 or 160 but it shouldn’t be 120,” he said.

Tootill argues speed limits should be set at the upper end of what’s safe – allowing those who can drive that speed to legally do so – while most motorists would go slower.

Others reacting on social media argued faster speeds would compromise safety and burn more fuel.

Some cities have also advocated for a lower default speed limit on urban streets of 40 kilometres per hour instead of 50, but that idea was defeated by a majority of delegates at last month’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Comox Valley RCMP have responded to an increased amount of calls last year within the Town of Comox. File photo
Policing calls for traffic, domestic assault increasing within Town of Comox: RCMP

There were 2,806 calls for service within the town in 2020

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Cumberland is hoping for its lab at the Cumberland Health Centre to re-open. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland hopeful for lab re-opening

“People in Cumberland are getting a little bit left behind with the loss of that lab.”

Ramona Johnson at the I-Hos Gallery. Photo by Ali Roddam/Black Press
Community rallying to support I-Hos Gallery manager

Ramona Johnson has recently been diagnosed with cancer for the second time

Brian Chow, a medical first responder for the Comox Valley division of St. John Ambulance for over six years, is one of the volunteers giving time at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Comox. Photo supplied
Medical first responders volunteer at Comox vaccine clinic

St. John Ambulance Medical First Responder (MFR) volunteers are providing support and… Continue reading

Jay Valeri and Lyndsey Bell own Bigfoot Donuts in downtown Courtenay. File photo
Courtenay donut shop wins Small Business BC Award

Bigfoot Donuts has won the Premier’s People’s Choice category of the Small… Continue reading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

Jay Valeri and Lyndsey Bell own Bigfoot Donuts in downtown Courtenay. File photo
Courtenay donut shop wins Small Business BC Award

Bigfoot Donuts has won the Premier’s People’s Choice category of the Small… Continue reading

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read