Are lower speeds keeping Ontario highways safe?
The scene is familiar to some and all to real to others. A car quickly cuts in front of you and thunders down the highway, darting and weaving through traffic in an effort to shave seconds off their commute. You’re annoyed at first. You long for the scream of a police siren to see this speeder pulled over in the near distance.
But your tone changes. You slowly pass the scene of an accident and a mangled car wedged between a truck and the concrete median. Sure, moments ago the driver annoyed you, but now, they’re a fellow human.
Nobody enjoys witnessing, or even worse, being in a vehicle collision. These types of accidents are tragic, they tug at our humanity and empathy, especially when they could be avoided. Intoxication, recklessness and generally unsafe driving are all dangerous variables when it comes to highway collisions in Ontario. And speed is no different.
Ontario highway speeds remain unchanged for over 40 years, but it wasn’t always this way. Prior to the 1973 energy crisis, the province kept pace with other municipalities with highway speeds of 110 km/h. With the energy crisis in full effect, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation reduced the speed limit to 100 km/h in an effort to save gas and oil amidst the worldwide shortage. Highway speed limits in Ontario remain the same ever since.
Since early 2012, a small group of concerned drivers started an online petition to increase the speed limits on all Ontario highways to at least 120 km/h. This movement spurred both praise and criticism from fellow motorists, government officials and the media at large.
Given the recent conversation, should Ontario raise highway speed limits?
Those in favour:
The average speed limit in Canada is 105 km/h, which is considered slow when compared to the rest of the world. Take a look below at some other highway speed limits in other countries.
Provinces such as British Columbia (B.C.) and Quebec recently addressed this issue. At the end of 2003, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation examined a report that outlined the need to increase its maximum highway speeds to 120 km/h. The provincial government in Quebec is currently experimenting with different sets of speeds on separate stretches of highway.
Should Ontario follow their examples?
Things to think about:
Perhaps Ontario is ready for change on its highways, perhaps not. What’s important is for us to keep talking about the issues in order to keep Canada looking towards a safer tomorrow.