Ontario to pilot higher speeds on three highways

TORONTO, Ont. - Posted speed limits will increase to 110 km/h along three stretches of Ontario highways as of Sept.

26, as the provincial government begins a pilot project to explore ways to improve traffic flows. The posted speeds will be increased along 90 km of Highway 402 between London and Sarnia, 32 km of the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) from St. Catharines to Hamilton, and 102 km of Highway 417 from Ottawa to the Ontario-Quebec border.

The pilot sites were selected because their interchanges are typically spaced at least 3 km apart, and the highways require "minimal to no upgrades". Six other provinces have posted 110 km/h speed limits on selected highways, the province adds. British Columbia, however, recently reduced the maximum speeds on several highways after boosting related speed limits to 120 km/h in July 2014.

University of British Columbia (UBC) researchers fond that fatal crashes doubled on some of the routes with higher limits. Groups including the Ontario Safety League and CAA South Central Ontario have already voiced support for the pilot project in their province. "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," says Brian Patterson, president and CEO of the Ontario Safety League.

"A pilot program like the one announced today is a measured approach and an ideal way to gradually explore the subject of raising speed limits and determine the impact on road safety, added Teresa Di Felice, CAA South Central Ontario's assistant vice-president of government and community relations. "Our collective goal is to both inform drivers about the importance of safely navigating Ontario's roads, paying particular attention to weather and road conditions, and understand the data collected during this period to ensure that Ontario retains its standing of having some of the safest roads in North America."

Public feedback on the changes will be collected through an online survey until Nov.

23.

"We want to hear first-hand from those who rely on our roads about how we can safely modernize our highways to better fit the needs of the people," Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney said in a release.

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