Last week, BC Transportation Minister Todd Stone announced his ministry is opening up the issue of highway speed limits for review and discussion, mostly in the rural areas where there are long stretches between communities. This will be an interesting process to watch and see if they are serious, or this is just more politics with no real intention of raising highway speed limits. If you are interested in participating in the process, there will be eight forums held throughout BC that the public can participate in. The forums take place in Kamloops, Kelowna, Cranbrook, Prince George, Dawson Creek, Nanaimo, Chilliwack and Vancouver. With a session in Nanaimo, maybe they will be convinced to raise some of the limits on the Island, especially on the stretch of the island highway between Parksville and Campbell River. The public input sessions are expected to start in November. There is no indications that a website is open yet for input, but we assume it will be through the Ministry of Transportation website.
Along with the public input, a technical review will be conducted to identify areas where speed limit changes would be appropriate. We think that means an overdue increase in speed limits for highways identified to handle it, but unfortunately that is not necessarily guaranteed. In North America, my experience is that we tend to dumb down the speed limits to the those drivers with the least skills and abilities. I was glad to read that the review includes what to do about slow vehicles impeding other vehicles in the left lane. I know there are people out there who think that just because they are going the speed limit they can drive in the left lane without consideration to those who are more comfortable driving faster in line with road conditions, vehicle, and driver ability.
In our opinion, raising speed limits on major BC roads would bring our province in line with the majority of North America and Europe, and recognize that modern cars and highways are designed for higher speeds.
I am encouraged that the Minister did say, “Research around the world suggests drivers who don’t keep up with the flow of traffic, not speeders, cause accidents”. However on the other hand, he indicated in no way would they be creating any ‘Autobahns’ in British Columbia.
We will keep you posted of the timing of the public sessions and when they will be scheduled.
The recommendations are scheduled to be released in 2014.