Speed limits being lowered on 15 sections of B.C. highways

570 kilometres of road will have speed limits rolled back by 10 km/h, Transportation Minister Claire Trevena announced Tuesday morning.

570 km of road will have speed limits rolled back by 10 km/h immediately, transportation minister announces

Speed limits were raised to 120 km/h on sections of three multi-lane highways in B.C. in July 2014. On Tuesday, B.C. announced it's dialling back some of those limits. (B.C. Government)

JUMP TO A LIST OF THE AFFECTED HIGHWAYS

B.C. is immediately lowering speed limits on 15 sections of highway in the province based on three-year's worth of data that show an increase in the number of serious and fatal crashes.

The Sea to Sky Highway, Okanagan Connector, more than half of the Island Highway and five sections of Highway 1 are among those that will see speed limits reduced by 10 km/h.

The connector and the Island Highway were approved for the highest speed of 120 km/h when the province raised limits on 33 sections of highway in 2014.

The Coquihalla Highway, which has variable speed limits, is not included in the rollbacks announced Tuesday.

Despite some serious crashes in recent years, data released by the Ministry of Transportation did not show road safety had declined on that stretch of road following the speed limit increase. 

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena announced the backpedal on the other stretches of highway on Tuesday morning, saying the move is to reduce the likelihood of speed-related collisions in the province.

"We are making every effort now … to make sure that people can travel safely on our highways," she said. "Nobody should be dying on our highways."

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena announces the reduction of speed limits on Tuesday. (Michael McArthur/CBC)

Altogether, 570 kilometres of B.C. highway will have slower limits. The ministry said 339 speed limit signs will need to be replaced — work it said will likely be finished by the end of the week.

The speed limits were raised while Liberal MLA Todd Stone was the minister of transportation.

Previous change

Ministry staff recommended the change after careful consideration, because it believed other road improvements on B.C. highways would allow people to safely travel faster.

"We don't just wake up one morning and say we are all going to go and drive faster, let's just jack up all the speed limits," Stone said.

"If I had to do it all over again, I would follow the advice and the recommendations, which were put in front of me from the professionals in the ministry. That's what I did then. I would certainly do that again."

Crashes did not increase on 16 stretches of highway where the speed limit was raised, and the speed limit will remain unchanged in those areas.

 Distracted driving and driving too fast for conditions still contribute to far more collisions than the higher speed limits, Stone said.

Study finds crashes up 118%

The move comes after a UBC study found fatal crashes have doubled on some highways with higher speed limits.

The study, published in the journal Sustainability, looked at crash and insurance claim data from the 1,300-kilometre stretches of highway where the speed limit was raised to 120 km/h.

Minister Todd Stone introduces new maximum speed of 120 km/h on some highway sections in July 2014:

Minister Todd Stone introduces new maximum speed of 120 km/h on some highway sections 3:27

It suggested number of fatal crashes jumped by 118 per cent, injury claims with ICBC rose by 30 per cent and total insurance claims went up by 43 per cent.

Trevena called the data startling and said staff were examining the limits to see if they were appropriate in all areas.

Speed contributed to 30 per cent of all deadly crashes in B.C. in 2016, according to ICBC data.

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 from Megan Thomas