Since When Are Higher Speed Limits An Answer To Congested Highways?

Apparently They Are in Ford’s Ontario, Where Starting this September 26th, You’ll Be Able To Drive Even Faster on the Niagara Stretch of the QEW

A Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted September 24th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Am I on another planet, or are there other people out there who feel that raising speed limes on Ontario highways, including the section of the QEW between St. Catharines and Hamilton, is not a good idea?

The speed limit on that stretch of the QEW and two others highways in the province – Highway 402 from London to Sarnia and Highway 417 from Ottawa/Gloucester to Ontario/Quebec border – is being raised from 100 to 110 kilometres per hour this September 26th.

And to read a news release put out this September 24th by the constituency office of Niagara West MPP and Ford government representative Sam Oosterhoff, you would think that these experiments, or “pilots” as the Ford government calls them, on three highways in Ontario may be a key to “improve traffic flow on provincial highways.”

“Traffic flow on the QEW is a major concern for residents who commute to Hamilton and Toronto from Niagara,” said Oosterhoff in the news release. 

That may very well be true but how is raising the speed limit going to help?

What it so often looks like from the windshield of a car – mine, at least –  is that you can’t move any faster, even if you want to, because you are in traffic that is getting bogged down and bottle-necked because there are simply too many cars and trucks on the the highway, as well as trying to come on and off the highway.

Perhaps what we need is fewer cars on the road and better public transit services, and that means services that are more reliable and affordable, 24/7, so that more people are drawn to use them and leave their cars at home.

But then, I am not a traffic expert and Oosterhoff did have Peter Van Hezewyk, President and CEO of CAA Niagara, a body that has been a long-time advocate for driving safety, at his side this September 24th, when he discussed the switch to higher speed limits. 

So we are now going to find out if a car or truck allowed to do 110 kilometres per hour (assume that to mean that at least some drivers will take that to mean that it is now okay to do 120 or 130, or more) on that stretch of QEW will actually be able to move any faster on a highway choked with trucks and cars. 

“Speed kills” is an old saying that was, as I understand it, on many years of studies of fatal outcomes on our roads. 

And now, hanks to these so-called “speed limit pilots” the Ford government is launching here, we are about to find out if that saying has any validity here.

Here is the full text of the news release from Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff’s constituency office –

Ontario Launches Speed Limit Pilot on QEW 

NEWS – September 24, 2019 

Beamsville – The Ontario government is launching three speed limit pilots on select highways to explore new ways to improve traffic flow on provincial highways. 

Today (September 24th), Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West, announced that on Thursday, September 26, 2019, the highway speed limit will change from 100 km/h to 110 km/h on the QEW between St. Catharines and Hamilton, one of three stretches of highway selected for the project. 

At the same time, the Ontario government is also launching online consultations to obtain the public’s feedback on the speed limit pilots. The information will help inform decisions related to increased speed limits and will be considered in the final decision-making process. Ontarians can share their feedback by completing an online survey by November 23, 2019.

Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff (right) and Peter Van Hezewyk, President and CEO of CAA Niagara, at the QEW in Beamsville

 

“Traffic flow on the QEW is a major concern for residents who commute to Hamilton and Toronto from Niagara,” said MPP Oosterhoff. “Our government is continuing to look at all safe options on provincial highways to get Ontario moving.” 

“Our government puts people first in every decision we make,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. 

“That’s why 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.” 

The move is supported by a number of road safety groups, including CAA and the Ontario Safety League. 

“CAA is pleased to continue working with the Ministry of Transportation to help educate and inform motorists on safe driving,” said Peter Van Hezewyk, President and CEO of CAA Niagara. “This careful approach will allow time to measure the impact on safety.” 

QUICK FACTS  

  • The Ontario government is launching three speed limit pilots on select highways: Highway 402 from London to Sarnia, Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) from St. Catharines/Lincoln to Hamilton and Highway 417 from Ottawa/Gloucester to Ontario/Quebec border. 
  • MTO will increase its safety messaging and enhance signage to ensure motorists are aware of where speed limits are changing. 
  • The three pilot sites were chosen because they require minimal to no upgrades, have an average interchange spacing of 3km or greater and can handle a 110 km/h speed limit. 
  • There are currently six other provinces in Canada that have posted speed limits of 110 km/h or higher on some highways. 
  • Ontario’s highways are among the safest in North America. Ontario has ranked the lowest or second lowest in fatality rates among all jurisdictions for 18 consecutive years. 

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“A politician thinks of the next election. a leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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2 responses to “Since When Are Higher Speed Limits An Answer To Congested Highways?

  1. Gary Screaton Page

    For years governments have been declaring, “Speed kills!” Now, Doug Ford wants to raise speed limits. Governments, clearly other than Ford’s, have been urging us to slow down and save fuel. Now, Doug Ford wants to urge us to spend even more as fuel consumption rises faster than speed increases. Both messages are scientifically misguided and, indeed, show an ignorance of the relevant science.
    The QEW, which I drive regularly is already high in accidents. Speed increases will only increase the number of fatal collisions. Economical, efficient, effective, well-planned public transport, as Europe has shown the world, is a viable, realistic and doable alternative to high speed and superhighways that cover virtually the same routes.
    Doug Ford’s impulsiveness shows in this, his most recently ill-conceived plan for our province. Maybe he should insist stickers be put on every guardrail post to encourage public transit as a means to reduce injuries and fuel cost in Ontario. Instead, he bullies our fuel depots to put stickers on their fuel pumps to publicize his angst with the Federal Government which is, like it or not, doing something to curb fuel waste emissions.
    Maybe Dour Ford should have a sticker on his mouth that says, “Closed for the good of Ontario.”
    But, then, my own angst is showing, isn’t it!

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  2. Stupid is as stupid does! More speed, more accidents. Everyone is bumper to bumper already. You’re lucky to drive 100 and usually end up in traffic jams which will increase due to severe accidents if the speed limit is raised. People don’t even use the proper lanes, sitting at 80 in a passing lane, pushing you along by tailgating in the driving lane or illegally using the HOV lanes (where they also tailgate and speed). I take the expensive ETR for that very reason. (Another CONSERVATIVE government mistake, selling a cash cow to pay off government deficits so they could say “look what we did!” and then go on to create new debt.) Why don’t they clamp down on speeders, tailgaters, aggressive drivers and lane changers? That would keep traffic flowing evenly.

    Ford seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator, buck a beer, drive 120 or 130. Oosterhoff claims to be pro life but it’s apparently OK to have an open season for highway deaths due to speeding. (His face is everywhere, no doubt calculating to be a future “leader”. He should qualify. He’s clueless enough.)

    Niagara is becoming a bedroom community for the GTA and Hamilton so where is efficient, regular and reliable public transit? The entire public transit system in Ontario stinks from Thunder Bay to Kingston. All of those additional commuter cars are consuming fossil fuels and spewing fumes while they sit in log jams. The days of happy family Sunday drives are gone due to traffic madness.

    Everything Ford wants to do will just exacerbate already unnecessary problems, all to pander to his base. Sound familiar?
    Eliminate hallway medicine….cut nurses. Sure, that’ll work.
    A half dozen backward fanatics are AFRAID of sex education (coincidentally the very groups who don’t teach it to their children at home)….reverse the school curriculum to archaic nonsense.
    Expand the economy…..destroy the environment.
    People struggle to pay bills….remove pharmaceutical financial assistance for the young, students and the poor while decrease taxes on corporations and the rich.
    Who voted for these clowns? Under 40% did yet by far they hold the majority of the seats. That’s democracy?
    Ford and his idiot minions just throw a few crumbs to the public and they lap it up. Nobody in this government appears able to connect the dots of cause and effect. I suspect they don’t want to. God help us if we vote them in federally. I would prefer Atilla the Hun.

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