We believe speed limits should be set based on science, driver behaviour and actual studies instead of being set by politicians for monetary gain. Do you? Learn more below.

Speed Limits Around the World

Canada has some of the lowest speed limits in the developed world, especially in the Eastern provinces. Ontario has been fighting for speed limits above 100 km/h for years. Sadly our government and municipalities will choose revenue over the safety of its citizens. They will ignore the numerous studies [∞] that it is safest to set the speed limit at the 85th percentile speed, and continue to blatanly rob us while the media continues to brainwash the public.

World Speed Limits

Source: Wikipedia

Canada's Top Speed Limits

British Columbia holds the title for the highest speed limit in Canada. As you go East starting with Alberta and ending with Manitoba it drops to 110 km/h. Continue East past Manitoba and the speed limit drops to 100 km/h.

All roads are not created equal, however the top limit remains the same across many provinces. Who's really setting the speed limits, the engineers or the politicians?

Source: Wikipedia

Canada's Top Speed Limits vs. Other Countries

If it wasn't for BC, our number would be at 110 km/h. We purposely left out Germany because you wouldn't be able to see the other bars in the chart.

Canada isn't a third world country yet our speed limits are the same as some. With highly skilled traffic engineers, why is Alberta's top speed limit still stuck at 110 km/h?

We don't like to speculate, but if limits were set according to science as opposed to political influence, we would see compliance rates rise and the amount of "law breakers" decrease.

But what about Winter? A speed limit should be set at the 85th percentile speed. An icy, snow covered road is far from ideal conditions and drivers should not be driving the speed limit.

Source: Wikipedia

The 85th Percentile Method

Setting speed limits according to the standards of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (the 85th percentile method) will...

  • focus enforcement on dangerous drivers, not revenue collection
  • increase speed limit compliance
  • provide greater consistency of speed limits
  • reduce speed variance resulting in reduced crashes

The 85th percentile is the speed to which 85 percent of drivers travel below (under average, free-flow conditions).

Busting the Myth: Raising speed limits will have a correlated increase in driver speeds

People often think that if the speed limits are raised, the average driver speed will increase by the same amount. This is a very common misconception. To quote Thad v. Peterson who dedicated 25 years of service to the citizens of Michigan and the Department of State Police:

People worry that vehicles/drivers will increase travel speeds by the amount of the speed limit increase. The best research solidly refutes this assertion, and in the hundreds of the road segments where we increased the speed limit up to 15 miles per hour, traffic travel speeds never increased significantly.

The speed limits were recently raised to 120 km/h on several highways in the province of British Columbia to better reflect the speed drivers were actually travelling. What they found was that there was no correlated increase in average driver speeds:

Before the speed limit was raised a year ago, the 85th percentile on the Coquihalla was 127 km/h against the posted limit of 110 km/h. Today, he says, it's 126 km/h. "That tells us very definitively that British Columbians and motorists are not driving any faster."

Raising the speed limits to reflect the majority of drivers' behavior increases compliance which in turn decreases speed variance.

Design Speed

Drivers often cite the design speed of roadways and that the speed limit should never exceed it. To quote Mr. Peterson once more, who again spent 25 years of service with the Michigan Department of State Police:

Road authorities are often concerned about an engineering factor called "Design Speed." Interestingly, when citing this concern, they miss the point that if the speed limit is far below normal travel speeds for that segment of the roadway, they have usually already failed to design for the prevailing speeds at which traffic is traveling SAFELY. Design speed is a highly misused and misunderstood topic that should not deter road authorities from maximizing traffic safety through the use of optimal speed limits.

Science Based Speed Limits

In the state of Michigan, most speed limits have to be set based on science after Public Act 85 of 2006 was passed. With a few exceptions, including park areas, school areas and business districts, largely there are only two ways the limit can be set -- through an access count of driveways and intersections or through a traffic and engineering survey which includes a speed study.

A recent investigation conducted by WZZM 13 Watchdog showed that there were some areas with an astonishing zero percent driver compliance rate. This heavily reinforces the idea that when the speed limit is set too low, drivers will simply ignore it.

CBC Marketplace: Is faster safer?

The speed limit says 100 but your speedometer probably says something else. CBC Marketplace tests the limits on Canadian highways and asks: Is slower really safer? Why Canada seems to be stuck in the slow lane.

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