Sadly, the speed limit increases on some rural highways in 2014 lead to an significant increase in fatalities, injuries, crashes according to a new study.
From the Vancouver Sun:
“Our evaluation found increases in fatalities, injury, and total crashes on the road segments where speed limits were increased,” according to the report, published in a journal called Sustainability. The study was led by Vancouver General Hospital emergency room physician Dr. Jeff Brubacher, and co-authors included road safety engineers at the UBC Okanagan campus.
“There was a marked deterioration in road safety on the affected roads. The number of fatal crashes more than doubled (118 per cent increase) on roads with higher speed limits.”
“All of the pro-speed arguments, like the one that people were already driving over the speed limit, have been disproven in this research. The pro-speed advocates who’ve lobbied for speed limit increases have based their view on crappy data at the time. The mistake should be admitted and speed rolled back because, from a safety point of view, it was the wrong decision,” he said.
Report co-author Gord Lovegrove, a transportation engineering expert and associate professor at UBC Okanagan, said the government should have acted sooner, given that his research team shared data with the government before study publication.
These speed limit increases have also made cycling less safe and comfortable on roads which are often the only connections between communities. In addition to lower speed limits, we also recommend the following.
Adequate cycling facilities can be provided through a variety of means, including:
- Physically separated bike lanes, preferably directional and properly integrated into intersection design;
- High quality bike paths within highway rights-of-way, with safe and efficient crossings of intersecting roads;
- A high quality bike path outside of a highway right-of-way could be an option if it involved no substantive increase in distance or grade.
Sufficient shoulder width should account for the following factors:
- Speed of traffic on the adjacent roadway;
- The volume of buses, large trucks and RV’s, bearing in mind wind turbulence and off-tracking on corners;
- The presence of significant cross-winds and grades (cyclists need more space for weaving when climbing or negotiating cross-winds and avoiding obstacles when descending);
- The presence and condition of rumble strips, drainage grates and road-side barriers, all of which can reduce useable space and collect debris;
- How frequently debris accumulates and how quickly it is cleared.
More information here.