UBC study: speed kills

A study released this week by the University of British Columbia shows fatalities have increased dramatically on B.C. highways where speed limits have been increased.

Since the province increased speed limits on 33 sections of highway in 2014, the study indicates crashes have increased by 20 per cent while fatalities have increased by over 100 per cent.

Speeds were upped just 10 per cent in 2014.

The study, through UBC faculties of medicine and applied science, was co-authored by Jeff Brubacher, an associate professor and emergency room physician at Vancouver General Hospital, and Gord Lovegrove, a transportation engineering expert and associate professor at UBCO.

In an interview with CTV Vancouver, Lovegrove stated 96 per cent of all crashes involved driver error.

"It really doesn't matter what speed you're driving at, it just means at higher speeds you've got less time to react if you've made a mistake or a deer is in front of you or a wheel falls off," he said.

"And the energy of the impact is greater, so the severity of the crash is greater at a higher speed."

He adds highways in the province were not built for the higher speeds and drivers have not been trained for them.

"It's the way we've designed our highways – very curvy lanes. We've got generally sharper curves than you'll see on an autobahn, we've got some very steep grades."

The Ministry of Transportation, in an email to CTV, said a study was conducted in 2016 from data collected from the first year of the new limits. That study resulted in improved road markings and signage.

It stated on 19 of the new portions of highway, there was no change, or a reduction in crash rates.

Lovegrove says the government was given data as it came in, but says they screen that data and adjusted the results to account for certain factors.

"Clearly this experiment, this solution, needs to be refined. It hasn't worked, it hasn't achieved the objective (the government) set out to achieve," Lovegrove said.

"Let's just reset. Let's get them back down to 110 and the other speed limits, the lower speed limits."

After looking at the report, current Transportation Minister Claire Trevena says the province will consider all options, including a speed limit reduction.

– with files from CTV Vancouver

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