Everyone knows that speeding is a no-go when it comes to getting behind the wheel. However, are there cases where going a bit faster can be beneficial? In April 2022, Ontario raised the speed limit on multiple sections of its 440 series highways. The 10km increase from 100km to 110km came after an 18-month pilot project which gauged the opinion of faster highway speeds. Years later, the 110km is a permanent sector on more than 300km of the province’s highways, including:
- Queen Elizabeth Way from Hamilton to St. Catharines
- Highway 401 from Windsor to Tilbury
- Highway 402 between London and Sarnia
- Highway 404 from Newmarket to Woodbine
- Two sections of Highway 417 bracketing the Ottawa area
To fully understand whether or not this has a positive impact on the province, it is important to look at whether or not it has affected road safety overall. We must also take a look at other places in the world with higher speed limits, not just Canada. For example, the German autobahn is notorious for its unrestricted speeding sections. Here, drivers determine their speed limit based on what they believe they are capable of. However, it is important to remember that Germany’s licensing process is not only more expensive but much more difficult. This is because even highways outside of the famous autobahn have speed limits of above 130 km/h.
Do drivers support higher speed limits in Ontario?
When the Ontario government first surveyed the province’s drivers, they found that 80 percent of people who took the survey supported the pilot overall. On top of this, 82 percent were in favor of raising the speed limits on specific sections of Ontario’s 400-series highways. The poll also revealed many more interesting facts regarding how Ontarians drive.
Over 61 percent of drivers feel comfortable going faster than the older 100-km/h speed limit, and fewer than 10 percent feel most comfortable around the 100km/h range. One organization that was a vocal supporter of the speed limit increase was Stop100. Since 2012, Stop100 has been vocal about increasing the speed limit to 120 km/h on all metropolitan 400-series highways. They are also vocal about increasing the speed limit on 400-series roads outside of metropolitan areas to 130 km/h
“We have state-of-the-art highways, it’s a travesty we are not letting people use the highways the way have been intended to use,” Stop100 founder Chris Klimek told the Ottawa Citizen. Klimek pointed out that generally, people will drive at a speed they feel safe and comfortable with. This speed is generally around 120 km/h on well-designed highways. This decision marked Ontario as the sixth province to increase the speed of their highways to above 100km/h. Alberta, New Brunswick, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia did so beforehand. Out of these highways, B.C. still leads with a highway speed of 120 km/h.
Have these changes affected road safety?
Of course, not everybody is ecstatic about 2022’s increase in speed limits. In fact, just five years before Ontario’s speed limit increase, Emilie Therien, a past president of the Canada Safety Council, wrote a piece for The Globe and Mail criticizing B.C.’s decision to increase their speed limit to 120 km/h. “The fatality rate of vehicle occupants goes up dramatically”, she states.
Ontario OPP Sergeant Kerry Schmidt stated speeding and aggressive driving were the number-one cause of road fatalities in 2021. In total, 81 people died as a result of car accidents linked to these factors within that year. So, did the increase in speed limit result in more road-related fatalities? In 2022, 530 fatal collisions occurred. However, there is no way of identifying if this is due to the increase in speed limit earlier that year.
As of now, there are no plans to increase the speed limit further on Ontario highways. As always, when you get behind the wheel of your vehicle, you should always maintain the speed limit and obey any traffic laws that are in place. It is also important to make sure you are up to date on your car insurance to be prepared in case the unfortunate happens. In the market for a new provider? Want to make changes to your current policy? Contact us or request a quote today!