On May 10, the Government of Ontario introduced “new ways to improve traffic flow and safety” on highways by testing higher speed limits on three sections of provincial roads. The experiment will determine whether the government moves forward with its plan to raise limits on highways around the province, a plan that has been met with concern by some personal injury lawyers.
The pilot program will affect Highway 401 from London to Sarnia; the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) from St. Catharines to Hamilton; and Highway 417 from Ottawa’s Gloucester neighbourhood to the border with Quebec, according to a provincial release.
“Safety is the government’s number one priority and each pilot location was carefully chosen based on a number of factors, including its ability to accommodate higher speed limits,” transportation minister Jeff Yurek said in the release.
Today, Ontario’s 400-series highways have a uniform speed limit of 100 km/h. Other provincial highways have posted speed limits between 80 and 90 km/h. The original speed limit on 400-series highways was 70 miles per hour, or 113 km/h, but it was reduced amid the 1970s OPEC fuel embargo.
Some transportation experts believe the time is right to reinstate higher speed limits. Baher Abdulhai of the University of Toronto’s Transportation Research Institute told the CBC that 120 km/h is already the “de factor speed limit” on highways in the Greater Toronto Area. Others point to roadways with higher speed limits in the United States and Europe as examples of success.
But other experts – including some personal injury lawyers – worry higher speed limits will cause an increase in serious accidents and perhaps more fatalities. McMaster University transportation engineering professor Mohamed Hussein told the CBC that “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.”
This research is supported by the results of a 2014 pilot project in British Columbia that saw the province increase speed limits to 120 km/h on several sections of highway. The project was rolled back after a sharp spike in serious collisions on several routes.
Regardless of posted limits, motor vehicle accidents involving excess speeds are more likely to result in fatalities. Vision Zero advocates are pushing for steep reductions of inner-city speed limits for precisely this reason.
If you or a member of your family has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer. Our team will manage your legal requirements while you focus on your recovery.
Image credit: Ken Lund/Flickr
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