B.C. government to roll back speed limit hikes by former Liberal government

B.C. will lower speed limits on many of the rural highways on which the former government raised speeds in 2014.

Transport minister Claire Trevena was to announce the decision this morning to drop speed limits when she releases information about her ministry’s review of three years of data shows an increase in accidents associated with the higher speed limits.

The finding is consistent with a recent study by University of B.C. experts that showed an increase in fatalities, injuries, crashes and insurance claims on some of the roads where speed limits were raised to as high as 120 km/h.

It was expected that the rollbacks would affect about half the highway segments with increased limits.

Dr. Jeff Brubacher, an emergency department physician and lead author of the study published last month, said the government is “fixing the mistake made by her predecessor and it’s good news.

“The limits shouldn’t have been increased in the first place and former transport minister (Todd Stone) should have rolled the limits back years ago when evaluations showed the situation getting worse.

“Rolling back the speed limits on half the affected segments is a big step in the right direction and I applaud the minister for finally fixing the mistake made by her predecessor. This change should improve road safety in the province and I look forward to another evaluation in a year or two to see the outcome.”

The decision to increase road speed limits in 2014 came after the Transportation Ministry carried out a public consultation. The vast majority of submissions were against speed limit increases and came from groups like the B.C. Truckers Association, the Justice Institute of B.C., health authorities, the B.C. Injury and Prevention Unit, various police bodies and the provincial health officer.

Stone has criticized the methodology of the UBC research.

In 2016, UBC professor Tarek Sayed conducted a study on the effects of the speed limit changes that had gone into effect two years earlier.

“Overall, the impact of increasing speed limits resulted in an increase of crashes on B.C. rural highways, where speed limits have been changed,” he concluded.

He found a statistically significant increase in crash frequencies of 11.1% “consistent with similar studies conducted worldwide in showing an increase in fatal and injury crash frequency after raising the speed limit.”

pfayerman@postmedia.com

Twitter: @MedicineMatters

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