Image: CBC

Increasing speed limits on several British Columbia highways caused  carnage and a higher accident rate and was a  failed experiment of the previous Liberal Provincial government. Price Tags has already written about the 118 percent increase in road deaths and 43 percent increase in vehicular claims received by ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. With higher speed limits implemented in 2014, the past Provincial government was not nimble in addressing the increasing road deaths and insurance claims as reported by researchers.

Claire Trevena, the Minister of Transportation for the Province has now announced an immediate decrease in speed limits on fifteen highway segments based upon a review of the serious and fatal crashes that have occurred in the past three years. These lower speed limits will be on the Sea to Sky Highway, the Okanagan Connector, the Island Highway and some sections of Highway 1.

The Minister also connected the lower speed limits to reducing the incidence of speed related crashes.

“We are making every effort now … to make sure that people can travel safely on our highways. Nobody should be dying on our highways.”

The change to lower speed limits will mean that 570 kilometers of highway will need to have speed limit signs replaced, a task to be completed this week.

It’s no surprise that a small group of male advocates continue to press for increased speeds. They say that travelling faster is not impacted by road condition, terrain, changeable weather or shorter reaction times, and somehow feel that the increased deaths and injuries are due to other factors, such as more people travelling. It’s also no surprise that they have no statistical data to back up their claims.

In his groundbreaking report Where the Rubber Meets the Road  former B.C. Medical Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall named vehicular accidents as a major cause of death in the province, responsible for nearly 300 annual deaths.  Between 2008 and 2012 the top contributing factors to fatal crashes were speed (35.7%) distraction (28.6%) and impairment (20%). It simply makes sense to lower speeds to increase safe travel.

Lower speed limits also need to be enforced. As transportation expert Ian Fisher notes enforcement must happen to ensure speed limits are complied with, and the use of radar detectors should be banned. In an era where vehicles are full of protection systems for occupants, why do we still insist on police being vulnerable road users in stopping vehicles that are speeding? Why can we not utilise universal camera enforcement like the Swiss, who have one of the lowest fatality and crash levels in Europe? With the funding of course going back to make separated bikeways and safer pedestrian crossings at appropriate locations. What will it take? You can take a look at the speed limit roll backs below.




Speed limits are being rolled back by 10 km/h on the following highway corridors:

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
With files fro



  1. Nanny state at work !

    Completely unnecessary.

    Where are the INCREASES on certain sections ? 140 km/h very doable in many sections void of curves and cars.

    1. Should the day ever arrive when vehicle user fees actually reflect the costs those giant highways, you can call it nanny state. If you want a private autobahn, go buy some land and build your own. If you want to travel on public highways, you can do it at speeds that don’t create danger and extra costs for the public.

      1. deleted as per editorial policy

        Going 140 km/h on a dry straight road with few cars is NOT RISKY. Doing 50 km/h in wet snowy foggy conditions with lots of cars is risky even when 100 km/h is formally allowed !

        We ought to adjust speeds to the environment, which is highly dependent on: traffic, weather, visibility and/or road’s curves or straightness. One speed limit does not capture all these complexities. We have far too many rules. How about: UNLIMITED BUT PRUDENTLY ?

        1. Apparently Thomas it is quite risky and the province now has the data to back it up. Rolling back speed limits makes sense, even more so since ICBC puts the state on the hook for vehicle insurance.

          I hope the NDP gets a majority next election and brings back photo radar to catch speeders.

          1. “Quite risky” because of ten more accidents ?

            Where is the calculation about cost and inconveniencing drivers and their passengers ie cost to society due to a ten min delay times a million trips a year on a certain road section ?

            Where’s the cost-benefit analysis ?

            Editor’s note. 11 more deaths on one section in one year.

          2. LOL, I would like to know the monetary value of ‘inconvenience’. And then the conversion rate to human lives.

  2. Speed limits were lowered in B.C., as in many other jurisdictions in the early seventies due to fuel shortages in the first energy crisis (U.S. 55 mph nationwide. The accident rate fell dramatically, so much so that when the fuel crisis was over, the lower speed limits were kept. If you believe in evidence based decision making, lower speed limits will save lives, reduce injuries and save money.

    1. Yes indeed. Why not go 70 km/h from Squamish to Whistler? Even safer. Or allow pedestrians only? Safest !

      Dropping these speed limits is sheer madness and just a money grab for more tickets, coated in safety.

      It also wastes a lot of time while getting from A to B, not counted. It also increases taxes, not counted, to pay for the administration of all these zones, traffic fines, monitoring, studies .. ie Nanny State with ever mushrooming public sector spending and ever higher taxes. Enough is enough.

      Allow people to crash their cars if they so chose. It’s gross government overreach. *deleted as per editorial policy*

      1. If drivers keep killing each other at 90 km/h, then yes, speed limit should be reduced.

        Money grab? Would you rather pay higher insurance and hospital fees caused by the crashes? Also, no one is forced to break speed limits so how can this be categorizes as a money grab?

        Yes, it may take longer to get to your destination but you are more likely to arrive alive. Extra costs? Hopefully extra revenue will cover these.

        Allow people to crash their cars? Do you like paying higher insurance fees? Higher hospital fees?

        I hope we soon have lower speed limits in urban areas. Still way too much slaughter going on.

        1. Lowering speed limits in ALMOST ALL sections is a money grab as they are often set too low to start with. 80 km/h to Whistler from Squamish. Give me a break. In many sections 130 km/h is safe. In others 110. In yet others 95. 80 km/h all the way is a sure way to quadruple ticket fee haul on busy weekends or when empty even. Its sheer government job & tax revenue creation, disguised as “safety” by our ever more aggressive and overreaching governments.

          Where are the MINIMUM speed limits ? Just as dangerous having 12 cars follow a slow driver for 12 km.

          Why not disallow cars altogether ? That is even safer !

          Meanwhile in Austria they allow EVs to go FASTER. How about that in BC ?

          1. The speed limit is the essential feature of a road design which instructs drivers on the safe use of a particular road. If a driver is foolish enough to speed, an act which endangers both that driver as well as others then whatever action it takes to curb such behavior is necessary, including confiscation of vehicles, which sometimes happens.
            A road is designed to safely accommodate a particular speed based on physics, behavioral sciences and statistics. Political interference is unwise and can lead to increased fatalities.

          2. This roadspeeed design may take very cautious or somewhat more normal assumptions.

            Having driven in NZ, for example, with fairly narrow and windy roads in many of its mountainous or hilly sections, if a sign says 60 km/h, for example, you can be sure 70 is far too fast and dangerous, NOT so in Canada. If it says 60 km/h here going 90 is often prudent still.

            We design assuming people go 15-25 km/h over anyway.

            Most of the new limits are ridiculously low. The main design is for more unionized increased overpaid staffing levels and ticket collection, all coated in safety. And all that with a one seat majority ?

            We ought to look also at raising many AND looking at minimum speeds, too.

          3. Jolson, I can assure you that most of the S2S corridor has a design speed of much higher than 80-90 km/h.

            That design speed isn’t being implemented as the speed limit for the most part. Ontario’s 400-series are even worse.

            From Wikipedia:
            While older freeways have some lapses in safety features, contemporary 400-series highways have design speeds of 130 km/h (81 mph), speed limits of 100 km/h (62 mph), various collision avoidance and traffic management systems, and several design standards adopted throughout North America.[50]

          4. Alex MacKinnon wrote: “Jolson, I can assure you that most of the S2S corridor has a design speed of much higher than 80-90 km/h. That design speed isn’t being implemented as the speed limit for the most part. ”

            That is a feature, not a bug. The design speed isn’t designed to be the maximum safe speed. The design speed is more about geometric features (banking in curves, sight lines, etc).

            Perhaps better to think about target speed instead of design speed. That is a better label for what jolson was talking about, not just geometry but also things such as driver behaviours, consideration of adjacent sections, and so on.

          5. ” Just as dangerous having 12 cars follow a slow driver for 12 km.”

            A proponent of free choice such as yourself will clearly recognize the dangerous behaviour lies in the impatient motorists behind the slow-poke, unwilling to sacrifice their convenience for a safe experience for all. Look how quickly we are willing to abdicate agency over our behaviour when there is a scapegoat available. Can’t have it both ways.

          6. You were asked to provide a cost-benefit analysis, but remain unwilling to say how much time others must save before you will trade your life . I suspect the acceptable fatality rate drops to zero then.


            There isn’t a problem with people running down the sidewalk accidentally stabbing people while making a sandwich, which would be a good corollary were it true.

        2. Thomas – the data shows that the higher speed limits cause way more deaths and serious injuries. I don’t see how anyone could be OK with this. Note that the injured or killed party could just as easily be you as another road user.

          1. We all understand that. Why not go even lower then ! Or eliminate cars altogether? What is missing is a cost-benefit analysis.

            Ban all kitchen knives too or all alcohol ? Flying risky. Being born too. Risk is part of human existence.

            The pendulum has swung too far towards safety or risk avoidance. 80 km/h from Squamish to Whistler, as one example of many, is an insult and gross NannyState overreach !

          2. “What is missing is a cost-benefit analysis”

            The cost is your life. How much time must I have to save before you are willing to pay the price?

            If you don’t have a real answer to this question, then stop volunteering the lives of others for sacrifice on the altar of speed and ‘convenience’

          3. That’s not how the real world works as 0 cars is then the correct answer. Any human activity has risk: kitchen knives, flying an airplane, crossing the street, being born ..

            “Research” without looking at benefits is just politics !

          4. Feel free to take your kitchen knife concerns to an appropriate website. We are talking about traffic fatalities here and zero is a good target to aim for, instead of casually deciding a few will die and that’s just life (or death).

          5. I get the noble idea of 0 fatalities.

            But: Why not even lower than, say 25 km/h or 35 km/h ? Who deices that 80 is a good compromise ? Not 70 or 60 or 55 or 25 ? There must be a cost-benefit analysis indirectly.

      2. “Allow people to crash their cars if they so chose”

        There are often two vehicles involved. Often one is blameless. You sir, have utterly lost the plot with regard to the basics of a civil society. Your disregard for the lives and safety of all is frankly, obscene.

        1. Of course government is ALWAYS right.


          Freedom of expression not allowed.

          Or nuanced debate.

          Why allow kitchen knives or alcohol consumption though ? Risky and sometimes live taking too !!

          1. You freely expressed your opinion. What’s the beef? People aren’t agreeing with you? Maybe your opinion isn’t shared. So it goes.

            The attempts to discout real safety issues with suggestions of total bans on edged kitchen implements doesn’t strengthen your position btw.

  3. Every pointless road fatality due to speeding always leaves me with the same question.

    Was that dead person the one who cured cancer in a more sensible world?

    If we treated road safety with the care and concern I see regularly displayed on construction job sites, a lot of paramedics would have time to attend to other things. One suspects our resident speed and death proponent is less enthusiastic for safety fails on his job sites, where they might cost money and slow progress.

  4. The ‘road is a designed space’ and therefore like all things designed it comes with an operating manual, in this case speed zones. Public policy dictates that all road users experience a safe journey, after all they are the ones paying for the road in the first place. If it is found that a speed zone produces a high rate of accidents, or a high body count, then the policy also dictates that the speed rate be reduced.
    Increasing speeds for political purposes is something else and seems very unwise given the predictable evidential results: more carnage on roadways. A no win political strategy. The view out the side window of a Lamborghini is one thing, and the view out of the cab window of an eighteen wheeler tractor trailer hauling a load of Teslas to the showroom is another view, and all the possibilities that can be found on wheels with licences either pushed, pulled or driven by the public in general is the total view, and all of it controlled for safety by a network of cameras, lights, stripes, signs, signals and devices including the lowly and ubiquitous ‘speed zone’.

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