An increase in fatalities, injuries, crashes and insurance claims on some B.C. roads is linked to a 2014 decision by the former provincial government to raise speed limits on the rural highways, according to a new study.

“Our evaluation found increases in fatalities, injury, and total crashes on the road segments where speed limits were increased,” according to the report, published in a journal called Sustainability. The study was led by Vancouver General Hospital emergency room physician Dr. Jeff Brubacher and co-authors included road safety engineers at the UBC Okanagan campus.

“There was a marked deterioration in road safety on the affected roads. The number of fatal crashes more than doubled (118 per cent increase) on roads with higher speed limits.”

Speed limits on 1,300 kilometres of provincial highways in rural areas across the province were raised in July 2014. A maximum speed of 120 kilometres per hour on the B.C. roads made them the fastest in Canada.

Earlier this year, a massive multi-vehicle crash near Hope, on the Coquihalla Highway, resulted in more than two dozen people being rushed to hospitals. It was another in a series of crashes on the highway that had safety experts saying the speed limit should be reduced to even lower than what it was in 2014.

Dr. Jeff Brubacher

Dr. Brubacher told Postmedia News that “things got a lot worse” on the highways where speed limits increased, especially on the Coquihalla and Malahat highways.

“You will recall there was a lot of controversy at the time. Public health experts said ‘don’t do this’ and so did I,” said Brubacher, a road safety researcher who is also an associate professor at the University of British Columbia. He chairs the British Columbia Road Safety Strategy Research and Data Committee and also sits on the City of Vancouver Traffic Safety …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun – Politics


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