More than half of those polled believe the province should not bring back photo radar…

The blur of a B.C. highway... Photo: Boaz Joseph, Surrey Leader
The blur of a B.C. highway… Photo: Boaz Joseph, Surrey Leader
Hike Those B.C. Highway Speed Limits?
Hike Those B.C. Highway Speed Limits? (Photo: Brad Smith, Black Press)

A significant number of British Columbians clearly don’t buy the safety mantra that speed kills.

In fact, according to a new Insights West poll, conducted in partnership with Black Press, 37 per cent of residents (and 39 per cent of drivers) believe a higher speed limit should be posted on our major highways. Currently, 100 km/h is the maximum on most freeways, while 110 km/h is posted on the Coquihalla Highway and parts of the Okanagan connector.

“The fascinating issue on this question is the gender gap,” said Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs at Insights West. “While half of men in BC would like to see a higher speed limit, just one-in-four women concur with this view.”

However, it was surprising to see that more than half (55 per cent) believe the speed limits should be left alone. Another five percent want to see limits lowered.

It’s surprising if you read the newspaper letters pages and listen to the province’s radio talk shows, where the 100-klick limit is commonly referred to as unrealistic on today’s well-designed highways.

As a frequent driver of the network, I have to agree that a 110 limit on the suburban highways and 120 on the Coquihalla is reasonable. In my experience, it is not speed alone but excessive speed combined with over-driving the weather/road conditions that kills. It is also true to say that dramatic speed differentials of traffic is also a major contributor to road carnage. However, while that may be true on congested urban roads it is less so on the highway where few people are travelling below the posted limit and I don’t see another 10 km/h hike making for major mishaps.

Not surprisingly, the online survey of a representative provincial sample also shows that a majority of residents believe that photo radar should not be brought back. More than half of those polled (53 per cent) believe the province should not bring back photo radar, which was introduced in the 1990s as a measure to curb speeding, but was abandoned in 2001.

While almost half of residents aged 55 (48 per cent) would like to see photo radar coming back, support is decidedly lower among residents aged 18-to-34 (36 per cent) and 35-to-54 (31 per cent).

I supported photo radar initially because when used in high-collision locations, elsewhere in the world, it has a remarkable record for reducing death and injuries. It never operated that way in BC and soon became public enemy number one where it was perceived as merely a cash cow for greedy provincial government.

Residents were also asked about the quality of British Columbia’s road and infrastructure. More than seven-in-ten (74 per cent) rate it as “good” (68 per cent) or “very good” (6 per cent), while only 22 per cent deem it “bad” (19 per cent) or “very bad” (3 per cent).

Overall, only 16 per cent of British Columbians believe that the province’s roads are “not too safe” or “not safe at all” for motorists, while four-in-five (82 per cent) consider them “very safe” or “moderately safe.”

This is the first of four surveys Insights West will conduct during the next year in partnership with Black Press. We hope these poll findings will find their way in the current speed limit and traffic safety review by the provincial government.

This week in Driveway, our “Question of the Week” and “Drives you crazy” spots focus on speed-related issues please participate online.

Email: keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

*About the survey: Results are based on an online study conducted from October 23 to October 27, 2013, among 838 British Columbians who are aged 18+ and are Your Insights panel members. YourInsights.ca is Insights West’s in-house access panel offering on-demand samples for both clients and research suppliers looking for Western Canadian populations. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age and gender. While statistical margins of error are arguably not applicable to online panels/online studies of this nature, we have assumed that the same margins of error apply as if it were a true unweighted random probability sample with a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty. To view the detailed data tabulations go to yourinsights.ca

18 thoughts on “The Need For Speed: Hike Those Highway Limits

    CH says:

    As a female that supports a higher speed limit, I regularly and wrongly exceed it. Generally when travelling between lower mainland communities. I find the poor road design and lack of major arteries puts more people at risk from impatient drivers. Mea culpa!

    Mike Hagel says:

    I would really like to see the return of photo radar the RCMP are to busy to deal with speeders the city of Surrey would do anything about the speeding on residential streets the are to busy talking to one and other this just might take Surrey City out of the trash and bring it back to a place where good hard working people can raise a family with out having worry about speeders running through are residential street why can’t they pass off this duty to bylaw or why did they sign a new contract without giving a little more money so they cud hire more staff to look after these problems as they spend all there resources running around after gangsters what a system it stinks

    Stephan Krieg says:

    Yes,absolutely raise those limits.In fact they should be 120kmh on Hwy 1 and 130kmh on the Coquihalla and connector.

    I think the speed limits are away to low for safe highway driving on BC highways

    I think speed limits are far to low on BC highways.

    ron says:

    To Keith Morgan: Your commentary in this Friday’s paper, in our Morning Star, that 55% of us say leave speed limits alone (thank you ladies) is not surprising to me. I regularly drive from Vernon to Kelowna and back at a speed of 5 to 10 over the limit of 90 (or lower depending on road conditions) and 85% of the vehicles pass me. So raising the speed limits would only produce faster speeds and this is always the case when driving elsewhere. I know this is not right of me either by exceeding the posted limit, but VERY FEW WHO DRIVE THE SPEED LIMIT ANYMORE. So just leave the limits alone and bring back photo radar for high-collision locations ONLY. P.S. Your original issue featured an electric BMW and you spoke of this being the future with hybrids leading the way, but since we have only seen gas guzzling trucks and cars……….what gives???? thanks ron

    Jerry says:

    I drove to Calgary last summer and my normal cruising speed is 110 klicks. I was being passed by almost everyone. If I was breaking the law by travelling 10 over, that means that everyone on the highway was breaking the law. That means that the law has no meaning and should be changed to represent the reality of the situation. 110 on the main roads and 120 on the Coq. and the Bypass make sense to me. There are also many different areas in the lower mainland where there are long stretches of relatively open road where the speed limit is 50 or 60 but where every cars is exceeding these figures. It is obvious that the speed limits should be adjusted upwards. There should also be an enforceable minimum speed limit everywhere.

    kolby says:

    I do wonder myself how much effect raising speed limits will have… Yes, some roads have ridiculously low speed limits and they should be changed. And yes, I completely agree with Sense BC that high speed is often blamed hypocritically by the Police and by a lot of reporters who simply re-print what others have said.

    At the same time, I generally think you’re allowed to travel 10 km/h over the limit on normal roads and 20 km/h over on the highway.

    So, if you raise it, wouldn’t people just continue to drive faster and faster?

    I think I’d just prefer lenient cops or maybe a change in penalties… so if you’re speeding 40 km/h over or excessively, you’re slapped hard.

    If you’re going 10-15 over and you’re not driving dangerously… well, who cares?

    Don Wilkins says:

    There are a lot of people that are incapable of handling an automobile at higher speeds, especially if an emergency occurs. Some will not drive at the faster rates because of a comfort factor. That leaves a greater discrepancy in speeds on the road which we all know causes more accidents. Leave the limits alone.

    Marvin says:

    I drive the Freeway in the lower main land and 110km would work better since that is the normal speed of most drivers.

    The I-5 across the boarder has this speed limit on parts of the highway and it seems to work just fine.

    Daisy says:

    I care especially if you keep to the 10-15 over practice thru school and playground zones.

    Brent says:

    Set the speeds higher and those who speed drive even faster. anyone who disputes this is not being honest. I’ve been driving for 30 years and have seen speed limits increase. Speeders (yes me included) exceed the limit by a perceived safe margin. Just yesterday a saw a White Rock cop with a radar gun. I knew he was there because I had just passed going the other way. I went back at the posted speed and many others past me through the radar trap at about 10-15 K over. The cop ignored them. confirmation on the safe margin. I purpose everyone here yelling yee-haw to the increases has never been in the situation that an animal walked onto the highway or the car ahead went out of control. The posted limits are not based solely on the capabilities of the latest offerings from Ford or Porsche. They include calculations for a driver in an average auto to avoid disaster. Sure you can blast through manning park at 130. How fast can you stop if you had to? How much practice do you have in collision avoidance when the lead car’s tire blows and you are both going 120? This will be like German highways. Days will go by even months without an issue. Then one car does something unexpected and 50-100 cars crash and 10 people die. Worth it? Your call.

    Clark Griswold says:

    Bad idea to raise the limits. Too many unskilled drivers on the roads to encourage even higher speed limits. It’s irrelevant that people are already speeding. All it takes is one driver who overestimates his own skill level and people will end up dead. Not to mention, with changing weather conditions if speed limits go up so does the risk when it rains or snows. People drive too fast through our communities as it is and in the lower mainland at least, highways run right through heavily populated areas. Try attending a few car accidents and see if speed doesn’t kill. Horribly.
    I’m sure older experienced people think they drive well enough to handle an increase. How about your average teen?
    Also, higher speed limits mean gas is burned all the faster and our dreadfully polluted planet hardly needs an increase in the burning of fossil fuels. Vehicles may be better built but driving skills don’t automatically increase. In fact, new vehicles offer false comfort to those who simply don’t drive well enough. I agree with a friend who suggested all vehicles should be standard shift. Then you’d see who can really drive.
    This is a stupid irresponsible idea and the false touting of the poll results is hardly surprising coming from Black Press. If 37% agree, that indicates that 63% don’t.

    I. Oevermann says:

    I would like nothing better than to see the
    speed limit reduced to 90kph/55mph on BC
    highways. Imagine how many innocent children,
    deer, bear, moose and family pets could be
    saved, not to mention the millions of liters
    of fuel which could be saved, and the slowing
    of global warming which might result.
    We live in one of the most spectacular areas
    of the country and it is much better seen
    and much more enjoyed at lower highway speed.
    I also believe that anyone who drives at
    excessive speeds and has a collision has NO
    right to expect ICBC to pick up the tab for
    their repairs. If you drive under the influence of alcohol and have an accident,
    your collision insurance is null and void;
    the same rules need to be adhered to if you
    are breaking the laws with excessive speed.
    I. Oevermann, Smithers, B.C.

    Kevin Puddy says:

    I believe where the road is good enough, raise them. Most of the highways were designed for 70mph anyway, why we’re plugging along at 50 is beyond me. Oh yeah, the States lowered their speed limits in the 70’s, and like a little brother, we have to do everything the older brother does.
    In case you haven’t noticed, the speed limits in the states have gone up since then…

    Henry Scholz says:

    Our provinces speed limits are fine. There’s just too many trucks and RV’s about that can barely manage the hills and corners as it is, and having overpowered smaller vehicles with egos to match, racing and passing in between them, is a dangerous combination here. Even in Alberta, I know my stress level goes up when negotiating the busy Edmonton to Calgary stretch. There is very little patience demonstrated, and you’re constantly on the lookout for the next bone head move to happen around you.

    Robert Nelson says:

    Nobody follows the speed limits and it is
    sad that so many people die because of being
    in a hurry to get somewhere faster. use your
    head and figure out that 10 KM over the speed limit will only get you there a few minutes earlier if you get there at all.

    Rod says:

    Never had a speeding ticket in 65 years of driving. Never had a ticket of ANY kind in all those years. The speed limits should be lowered to what they were. If people are in such a hurry, they should allow more time and leave earlier. Am all for bringing back radar as well.

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