A provincial review of highway speed limits, particularly between communities outside of the Lower Mainland, will seek public input as well as stakeholder and technical information.
Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone announced the initiative Friday morning in his downtown Kamloops constituency office.
Stone said the review, which starts next month, looks at speed limits, traffic flows and wildlife corridor safety measures. Recommendations are expected by spring 2014.
“We want to ensure those travelling on our highways can do so as safely as possible,” he said.
“It’s not speed that’s the leading cause of crashes, it’s variations in speed.”
The review could show some speed limits on highways like the Coquihalla or the Sea to Sky could be raised, but it also might recommend reductions on others like Highway 5A, which has been a focus of concern in Kamloops lately, said Stone.
“There’s no question the Coq is a prime candidate for an adjustment in speed limits,” he said.
The last highway review was done 10 years ago. In that time, the province has spent $14 billion on improvements, including passing lanes, rumble strips, four-laning, guardrails, wildlife exclusion fencing and signage.
This one will include looking at traffic volumes, speed surveys, a review of current road design and safety data.
Vehicles have also been made safer over the years, with ABS braking and traction controls, he noted.
“Safety of the public on our highways is the No. 1 priority.
B.C.’s mountainous geography and variable climate also have to be considered in looking at highway speeds, he said. And it is possible the review could result in different speed limits for different times of day or times of the year.
The review won’t look at enforcement, and there will not be any reconsideration of photo radar, he stressed.
Speed limits in Canada are generally lower than in Europe, while in the U.S. there’s been a trend to raising speed limits, said Stone.
Those speed increases haven’t resulted in people driving even faster, but it has reduced the variations in speed, he added.
Public forums on B.C.’s highway speed limits will be held in Kamloops, Kelowna, Prince George, Chilliwack, Nanaimo, Dawson Creek, Vancouver and Cranbrook.
Beyond that, the government will also be consulting with ICBC, the Union of B.C. Municipalities, RCMP/police, the B.C. Trucking Association, the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles and other stakeholder groups.