A newly published report suggests a change to city speed limits has made a significant difference in the number of collisions across Edmonton.
A study done by the University of Alberta in conjunction with the City of Edmonton reveals that the change from 50 km/h to 40 km/h has made a significant impact.
The report analyzed vehicle data from before the COVID-19 pandemic, during, and when the change was implemented in August 2021. Speed surveys were conducted at 219 locations.
The switch successfully reduced driver speeds in certain locations by more than 50 per cent.
According to the report, significant speed reductions were noticed more on local roads compared to collector roads. Narrower roads saw a higher reduction than wider roads.
After lowering the speed limit by 10 km/h, there were 25.1 per cent fewer collisions and 31 per cent fewer injuries and fatalities throughout the city.
It also revealed that central neighbourhoods experienced the most significant collision reductions, while cul de sacs did not see as much success with the new speed limit.
Overall, the study noted that the speed limit had a positive impact on drivers, pedestrians and cyclists but it was not a perfect transition.
“There were still areas where drivers did not slow down, indicating the need for further intervention. Generally speaking, the results highlighted the importance of reducing the speed limit to improve road safety and the need for continued monitoring and evaluation of road conditions,” read the report.
Having the default speed limit changed to 40 km/h in Edmonton makes residents like Andrea Sandhu feel much safer.
“At that time I didn’t have kids or a dog so I didn’t put a lot of thought into it. Now that I do have a little one and a dog I do think it’s for the best,” said Sandhu.
Now, she notices a real difference when she’s walking in her community.
“I think it gives people enough time to actually (take) a thorough glance around before crossing intersections,” Sandhu said.
“Parents when their kids are out can feel just a little bit more secure that the family’s going to be safer than they were before. That’s something that we really were working toward,” said Ward Dene Councillor Aaron Paquette.
Paquette says they will continue to work towards a safer Edmonton, but this is just one way to reduce avoidable tragedies.
“There are a lot of families that deal with the frustration of a minor collision but also the heartbreak that can come with something that’s much more dire, a lifelong injury or even a fatality,” said Paquette.
Another option that could be used to further reduce the number of collisions and injuries would be more enforcement, however, Paquette says that doesn’t always work.
“If the speed limit is 50 km/h, people are going to go 50 to 60. If it’s 70 km/h, they’re going to go 70 to 80. If it’s 40 km/h they’re going to go 40 to 50. So the outliers are always going to be the outliers,” he said.
“If you lower it to 30 you’d have fewer injuries and collisions. So that would be ideal, but of course, there’s also the fact that you’ve got to listen to the voice of the people and they said 40 is enough.”
Sandhu says thanks to the reduced speeds, when she’s out she doesn’t always have to worry about the cars passing by.
“Sometimes people are in such a hurry, they’re not looking where they are going. We’re such a snowy, icy city too, so it makes a big difference,” she said.