The authors of a newly published road safety report are calling on the BC Government to roll back speed limit increases linked to a jump in the number of fatal, injury, and total crashes.
The report, which was led by Vancouver General Hospital emergency room physician Dr. Jeff Brubacher, showed a 118 per cent increase in fatal crashes on roads affected by speed limit hikes in July 2014.
“Affected roads also had a 43% increase in total auto-insurance claims and a 30% increase in auto-insurance claims for injuries due to crashes,” the report said.
The report’s authors found a “marked deterioration in road safety on the affected roads.”
The previous B.C. Liberal government raised the speed limit on 33 provincial roads, including to 120 kilometres-per-hour on Highway 19 from Parksville to Campbell River, up from 110km/h.
Other increases saw Highway 19 from Port McNeill to Port Hardy go up to 100 km/h and from Campbell River to Sayward.
Highway 1 from Cowichan Bay to Nanaimo increased to 90 km/h, along with a four-kilometre stretch from Duncan Bay Road to Menzies Road in Campbell River.
The report says in the year before speed limits were increased, there were 19 fatalities on the highways that would eventually see limits go up.
In the year following the change, that number climbed to 33.
Two years after raising speed limits, the provincial government rolled back increases on two highways: Highway 1 from Hope to Cache Creek and Highway 5A from Princeton to Merritt.
The report says communities with harsh winter climates and in mountainous terrain “should learn from this experience and resist pressure from pro speed advocates to raise speed limits without due consideration of road safety.”
Data was gathered from 2000 to 2016 from police reports, auto insurance claims, ambulance call dispatches, gasoline sales and vehicle speed travel data from permanent count stations.
The study found an average of 265,187 crashes resulting in an insurance claim between 2000 and 2016.