A pilot project will begin in mid-September which will increase the speed limit to 100 kilometres per hour on Highway 417 from Ottawa/Gloucester to the Ontario-Quebec border. Two other pilot locations with increased speed limits will be Highway 402 from London to Sarnia and the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) from St. Catharines to Hamilton.
At the same time, the province will launch province-wide consultations on how to safely increase highway speeds to align with other provinces, and how people currently drive. The pilot project will last for about two years.
Jeff Yurek, Minister of Transportation, was joined by Bob Bailey, MPP for Sarnia-Lambton, to explain how the government will listen to people’s suggestions on how to best modernize Ontario’s highway network to better serve their needs.
“Results from the pilot and all feedback received during consultations will be carefully considered as a part of the final decision-making process,” said Minister Yurek. “We’re also working with our road safety and enforcement partners.”
The Ministry of Transportation is exploring options for a fourth pilot in Northern Ontario.
“Safety is the government’s number one priority and each pilot location was carefully chosen based on a number of factors, including its ability to accommodate higher speed limits,” said Yurek.
The government says it is adding extra safety measures such as increased signage and messaging and that it will also protect the safety of drivers by proposing amendments that keep the street-racing penalties at 150 km/h. This means in the speed limit pilot zones, the street-racing penalties will apply at 40 km/h over the posted speed limit, not the usual 50 km/h over.
Some provinces, like new Brunswick, already have higher speed limits.
Speed limits on several highways were higher in the 1970s, but were reduced to save energy during what was described as the energy crisis in the mid 1970s.
“The Ontario Safety League traditionally bases their position on science, and the science tells us that although excessive speed is a factor in many crashes, under normal driving conditions and with reasonable driving attention it would have virtually no impact,” said Brian Patterson, President and CEO, Ontario Safety League.
Many studies show that that a higher rate of speed creates a higher probability of crashes and a higher fatality rate from those collisions.
Following increases to the speed limit on some highways in British Columbia, an October 2018 CBC story reported that, “New research from doctors and engineers at the University of B.C. suggests the number of fatal crashes has doubled on highways where the speed limit has been hiked in recent years.” Speed limits had been increased on parts of some highways to 120 kilometres per hour. You can read that story here.
- Consultations will begin in the next few weeks.
- The pilot projects will start in mid-September. Increased safety messaging and updated signs will ensure motorists are aware of where speed limits are changing. We will continue to work with our road safety and enforcement partners to ensure that the pilots are conducted safely.
- There are currently six other provinces in Canada that have posted speed limits of 110 km/h or higher on certain highways.
- Ontario’s highways are among the safest in North America, where we’ve ranked the lowest or second lowest in fatality rates among all jurisdictions for 18 consecutive years.