February 27, 2018 2:19 am
Updated: February 28, 2018 12:54 pm

The Coquihalla Highway’s speed limit is 120 km/h in parts. It should be 30 km/h lower: experts

A massive multi-vehicle pile-up on the Coquihalla Highway is raising questions about highway safety. This latest crash sent more than two-dozen people to the hospital. The crash happened just outside Hope -- shutting down the busy highway overnight. Jennifer Palma has the latest Monday afternoon.

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Six vehicles were involved in a crash, including a Greyhound bus, north of Hope on Sunday that sent dozens of people to hospital.

It’s just the latest in a series of incidents on the Coquihalla Highway that has safety experts saying the speed limit on that route should be at least 30 km/h lower than what it was raised to in 2014.

Coverage of the Coquihalla Highway on Globalnews.ca:

Back then, the provincial government raised the speed limit on a section of the Coquihalla from Hope to Kamloops from 110 km/h to 120 km/h, with variations based on conditions, following a Rural Highway Safety and Speed Review.

At the time, it turned out that 85 per cent of vehicles were travelling at speeds of up to 127 km/h on that stretch of road.

“The majority of recommended increases are limited to an additional 10 km/h which will bring the speed limit in line with actual travel speeds,” the government said at the time.


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In the review, the government reasoned that speed limits that were set closer to the 85th percentile would “increase compliance and reduce speed differentials, thus reducing conflicts between vehicles.”

But the change certainly hasn’t stopped vehicle collisions along this particular stretch of highway.

Earlier this month, Nicholas Funke was killed while helping the victims of a crash on the Coquihalla close to Larson Hill.

READ MORE: ‘A shirt off his back kind of guy’: friends rally for Good Samaritan killed helping in Coquihalla crash

The following day, a crash happened there that involved eight cars.

A week before that incident, a bus carrying international students hit the highway median and a tour guide was thrown through the front window.

WATCH: Coquihalla tour bus crash caught on dashcam

James Cooper, an independent safety advisor, seems less enamoured of higher speed limits.

“People don’t see the speed limit as a maximum,” he said.

“They see the speed limit as a suggested minimum.”

READ MORE: Coquihalla Highway reopens after serious multi-vehicle crash

Experts have said the speed limit could stand to be dropped to 80 km/h or 90 km/h.

“What we need up there is a European model,” Cooper said.

“There is one speed limit implemented for cars, one for trucks, but the European model also incorporates winter condition driving and lowers the speed limits accordingly.”

But speed isn’t the only concern, if you ask Merritt Mayor Neil Menard.

He wants the province to set higher standards for highway maintenance contractors.

“Somebody’s got to take the bull by the horns and it’s got to happen now,” he told Global News.

B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said she won’t rush to make any changes to highway safety until after an investigation has been completed.

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