B.C. Premier John Horgan says he is ‘shocked’ by a new study that shows an increase in fatalities, injuries and crashes on some B.C. roads where the speed limit was increased by the previous government.
The report, published in the journal Sustainability, was done by Vancouver General Hospital emergency room physician Dr. Jeff Brubacher and co-authors included road safety engineers at UBC Okanagan.
“Following the increase in rural highway speed limits in British Columbia, there was a marked deterioration in road safety on the affected roads,” reads the study.
“The number of fatal crashes more than doubled on roads with higher speed limits. Affected roads also had a 43 per cent increase in total auto-insurance claims and a 30 per cent increase in auto-insurance claims for injuries due to crashes.”
Speed limits on around 1,300 kilometres of provincial highways in rural areas across the province were raised in July 2014. The stretch of road is now marked at 120 kilometres per hour, the fastest in Canada.
Horgan says Transportation Minister Claire Trevena is waiting to formally get the report and cabinet will look at the issue.
“The increase in fatalities where the speed limits increased shocked me quite frankly and we are going to take a good hard look at that,” said Horgan.
“Focusing on public safety that is a fundamental job of elected officials. I think we have an obligation to protect the public. And if speed limits are a factor in fatalities we need to reduce them.”
The authors of the report write in their conclusion that the provincial government should decrease the speed limits and other jurisdictions should be cautious about increases.
“Based on our findings, we recommend that British Columbia roll back the 2014 speed limit increases. Other jurisdictions, especially those with harsh winter climates or with highways that traverse mountainous terrain, should learn from this experience and resist pressure from pro speed advocates to raise speed limits without due consideration of road safety.”
WATCH HERE: Have higher speed limits made roads more dangerous?
But motorist advocacy group Sense BC says that the study is not complete and is misleading.
The organization’s video producer, Chris Thompson, says that the study indicates higher crashes on parts of the highway where the speed limit actually didn’t go up. He adds that weather was also not properly considered in the reports findings.
“If you look at the causes of the collisions, or at least the correlation of the collisions that happened on the Coquihalla you will see there were huge spikes in the level of snowfall over the same time,” he said.
“What the study didn’t do is look how speed affected the accidents, it just ignored it.”