Speeding: The Highway Issue
November 1, 2015
Speeding on the road has proven to be a factor behind over 20% of deadly car crashes. Many drivers in Canada, however, have been complaining about the highway speed limits, saying that they are too slow. In 2014, British Columbia raised their highway speed limits to 120 km/h for approximately 1300 of their highways. Currently, British Columbia is the province that holds Canada’s highest speed limit. Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia have highway speed limits at 110km/h. In Ontario, many people have started petitions to raise their highway limits to 120km/h, and even 130km/h. While their reasons are understandable, an increase in the speed limit means that there will likely be an increase in the number of car crashes and their severity as well.
The danger of increasing the speed limit is a concern to many health experts. The faster the speed, the more distance a driver will travel during their reaction time. A reaction time is the amount of time that it takes for a driver to react to a dangerous setting. It takes approximately 1.5 seconds for a driver to react, but the average reaction time of a distracted driver is 3 seconds. This means that driving at a higher speed will make it less likely for a driver to avoid the collision. It is more likely that they have already made it to the collision point in their 1.5 – 3 seconds. If two cars were driving together at different speeds, and both drivers had the same reaction time, the slower driver would have a higher chance of avoiding the collision point. In a situation like this, choosing to drive slower has benefited the driver.
A decrease in speed equals to a decrease in the brutality of a crash as well. During the 1970’s energy crisis, the speed limits were reduced in the US. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration board reported that there was a 16.4% drop in the number of fatalities. However, after the crisis ended, the speed limits were taken up a notch, which led to a 17% increase in the number of fatalities. This proves that a decrease in the speed limits will benefit drivers in numerous ways.
Canada should learn from America’s experience in lowering and increasing speed limits. A drop in the speed limit will discourage drivers to travel at a high speed, which will then lower the number of car crashes and the severity. After all, “better safe than sorry.”
Fernandr. Speeding Fact Sheet 4 – How Does Speeding Increase the Severity of a Crash? (n.d.): n. pag. Web.