If speed kills, as the familiar mantra goes, why is B.C.’s transportation minister pondering an increase in limits on major highways?
Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone recently mused about the need for a review on major routes, which he claimed should be done every 10 years or so.
The last review was done a decade ago and had a small but notable effect here.
Motorists may recall — back in the days when the toll booth haunted the Coquihalla Highway — that the speed limit entering Kamloops eastbound on the Trans-Canada Highway from the west suddenly dropped from 110 to 90 km/h, right at the bottom of a long hill.
Motorists — 85 per cent of them anyway, according to a rule of thumb used by transportation engineers — already know how fast to drive based on factors that include road width, presence of driveways and commerce on the roadside.
Eighty-five per cent of drivers will fall within a tight range, which is something like a natural speed limit.
The 90 km/h limit was unnatural, particularly at the bottom of a long hill. When RCMP set up speed traps at the spot, it caused cynicism among drivers. The review raised the limit on the short stretch to a reasonable 100 km/h.
This is a short stretch of road where common sense, backed up by ministry engineering studies, prevailed.
It is tantalizing to think the speed limit on the Coquihalla could be raised to 120 km/h.
When Phase 2 of the Coquihalla was completed in 1986, many cars would struggle up hills. Today, even the most humble compact car can maintain the speed limit up the Great Bear snowshed.
Automobile safety and performance has greatly improved since then, with better brakes, tires and handling along with air bags and other safety measures.
A well-researched report by the ministry should be welcomed by motorists who travel B.C.’s highways.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.