110 km/h coming to 3 Ontario highways starting September
Speed limits on Ontario highways haven't been reviewed since the oil crisis of the early 1970s
Ontario's transportation minister announced on Friday three pilot projects that will see speed limits on provincial highways in southern Ontario increase to 110 km/h, a move that has drawn both applause and concern from experts.
The announcement was made by Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek near Hwy. 402 and Longwoods Road, in a carpool lot, as cars and trucks whizzed nearby.
Yurek said the following highways will be part of the pilot project starting in mid-September:
- Highway 402 from London to Sarnia.
- The Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) from St. Catharines to Hamilton.
- Highway 417 from Ottawa/Gloucester to Ontario/Quebec border.
The province is also looking for a suitable highway to pilot higher speeds in Northern Ontario.
"Safety is the government's No.1 priority and each pilot location was carefully chosen based on a number of factors, including its ability to accommodate higher speed limits," said Yurek
Fatal collisions in Ontario:
- 2016: 517
- 2015: 454
- 2014: 439
From Ontario Road Safety Annual Report
He notes the province will hold a series of public consultations starting in the next few weeks.
The move is a change from the policy of the previous provincial government, which in 2012 rejected a campaign to raise speed limits to 120 or 130 km/h. At the time, then-transportation minister Bob Chiarelli said he made the call because speed is a factor in 20 per cent of fatal crashes in Ontario.
At the roadside announcement, concerns around safety were answered with a promise to improve signage and messaging on highways.
Yurek wants street-racing penalties to still apply to drivers caught doing 150 km/h or more, pending an amendment to legislation.
How does Ontario compare?
- PEI: 90 km/h
- Nova Scotia: 110 km/h
- BC: some 120 km/h
- Autobahn (Germany): none, 130 km/h advised
- Hawaii: 97 km/h (60 mp/h)
- Texas: 137 km/h (85 mp/h)
Right now, the 400-series highways, including Hwy. 401, 402, 403 and 417, as well as the Queen Elizabeth Way, have posted limits of 100 km/h. Other provincial highways range between 80 and 90 km/h.
Speed limits haven't been reviewed in the province since the 1970s. They used to be about 110 km/h but were lowered in 1975 because of the oil crisis.
Yurek points out six other provinces in Canada that have posted speed limits of 110 km/h on certain highways.
In 2014, British Columbia increased speed limits to 120 km/h in some parts of the province, but has since rolled back those increases because of an alarming increase in serious collisions.
"Most research shows that if you are involved within a collision and you are driving more than 120 km/h, your chances to survive are almost zero," Mohamed Hussein, a transportation engineering professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, told CBC News earlier this week.
However, other experts argue that 110 km/h is already the speed most cars travel on 400-series highways, especially in the Greater Toronto Area.
With files from Kevin Taghabon