New data released today by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure shows that crash rates are unchanged — and on some roads have dropped — on 19 of 33 sections of highway where speed limits were increased in 2014.

But what about the other 14 — or 42 percent — of the other sections?

Over the last six months, engineers carefully examined crash and speed data from the 33 sections of highway where speed limits were increased in 2014. The ministry’s analysis, released today, compares crash data from Nov. 1, 2014 to Oct. 31, 2015 with crash data from the previous three years. The data shows:

  • On 12 sections, the rate of speed increased and crashes decreased;
  • On seven sections, the rate of speed decreased and crashes decreased;
  • On seven sections, the rate of speed increased and crashes increased; and,
  • On the remaining seven sections, the data shows that the crash rate increased, despite motorists traveling slower than they did before the speed limits were increased.

The Coquihalla from Hope to Kamloops, for example, where the speed limit was increased to 120 km/h from 110 km/h, continues to see the lowest crash rate in the last 10 years.

“Of particular interest, the data shows that we saw the crash rate increase on seven sections of highway where people were actually travelling slower,” said Transportation Minister Todd Stone.

“This suggests again that there are many different factors that can lead to crashes and speed is only one of them.”

On a seven-kilometre section of Hwy. 3 from Hope to Princeton, for example, driver inattentiveness, road condition and alcohol are listed as the primary cause of accidents.

Changing weather conditions, distracted driving, driving too fast for conditions, heavy traffic, falling asleep, alcohol, driver error and wild animals can all contribute to crashes. Distracted driving, road conditions and driving too fast for conditions contributed to 54% of serious crashes where speed limits changed.

Distracted driving remains the leading cause of crashes on these sections of highway. In fact, the 2015 data shows distracted driving – also called driver inattentiveness – is still on the rise.

Between Nov. 1, 2014 and Oct. 31, 2015, 28% of all crashes in these areas were primarily caused by distracted driving. Distracted driving was the primary cause of 22% of crashes during the previous 10 years. Driving faster than the posted speed limit was a contributing factor in only 2% of the crashes.

“Once again, this data serves as a reminder for the public to put your phone away while you are driving,” Mr. Stone said.

“We continue to see a rising number of people being killed or injured while using their phones and driving a vehicle. A text message, a phone call, a Facebook post is not worth your or someone else’s life.”

On the 14 sections where the crash rate has increased, the Province will invest in added safety features like improved road markings, better signage, new rumble strips, variable speed signs and wildlife safety measures.

“When we introduced the speed changes in 2014, I committed that if any of the zones show an increase in crashes and we can’t reduce them with engineering measures, the ministry would readjust the speeds,” Mr. Stone said.

“That is why the ministry will be rolling back the speed limit changes on two of the 33 sections of highway: Highway 1 from Hope to Cache Creek will return to 90 km/h and Highway 5A from Princeton to Merritt will return to 80 km/h.”

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