What an Ontario driving instructor says about raising highway speed limits

Michael Raymond of DriveWise says raising highway speed limits would reflect the fact that most people drive faster than 100 km/h, but worries some drivers might push their luck by driving dangerously.

Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek is expected to release more details this week

Michael Raymond is a driving instructor with DriveWise. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

A London, Ont. driving instructor says upping the speed limit on provincial highways would better reflect the speed at which most drivers travel, but worries some drivers might push their luck with a more generous limit.

Last week, Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek announced the province will review speed limits with an eye to raising them. A public consultation and pilot project will be part of the review, with further details expected this week.

Michael Raymond, an instructor with the company DriveWise, said he currently teaches students to drive between 100 km/h and 110 km/h, accounting for the overall flow of traffic.

"If the flow of traffic is going 10 over, it's almost more hazardous for you and other people to go the speed limit dead on the dot," said Raymond.

Raising the speed limit slightly would be "advantageous," in that it would allow people to continue travelling at their current speeds without breaking the law, Raymond said.

But Raymond said he worries some drivers might not be satisfied with the new limit, and would continue to push their luck.

"They're going to be going 130 km/h, 140 km/h, just to see if they can go even faster, because they think they still have that leeway, and that can be dangerous," said Raymond.

Stopping distance

Another golden rule in Raymond's driving classes is that doubling your driving speed means quadrupling your stopping distance.

Driving 120 km/h is fine as long as conditions are safe, but any increase in speed can make it more difficult to react appropriately, Raymond said.

"A lot of people think ... 'I can go just as close to a person as I can in the city,' [but] It doesn't apply that way, it takes you longer to stop at every different speed," he said.

A student sits in a driving simulator. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

As an instructor, Raymond said he also worries about the impact of higher speed limits for novice drivers. 

Many students are already too scared to drive on highways with a speed limit of 100 km/h, and Raymond said upping that limit could make things even worse.

"In Ontario you have to go on the highway as well as in the city for your full G license test, [and] with that people try to go to other small cities just so they can try to avoid the freeways," Raymond said.

"But once the time comes where they have to do their driving on those roads, they're not prepared themselves, making it more dangerous and hazardous to other people."

Although Raymond thinks raising speed limits can be a good idea "in theory," he says the execution will depend largely on how well citizens cooperate with the new rules.

"Think this through a little bit more before the laws are passed," he said.