UBC study shows road fatalities have increased alongside hiked speed limits

Published: October 12, 2018

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A new study completed and published by the University of British Columbia (UBC) suggests road fatalities increase in direct relation to a rise in speed limits. In the report, UBC finds the number of fatal collisions has doubled on stretches of highway where the speed limit has been increased.

To find the data, the university examined collisions and insurance claims data from the 1,300 kilometres of highway in British Columbia that has increased the speed limit to 120 kilometres per hour. That hike came in 2014.

UBC’s report is available now on the Journal Sustainability. Since 2014, the number of fatal collisions on the studied highways grew by 118% since speed limits increased. Due to these crashes, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) has handled 30% more auto insurance claims.

ICBC is the province’s monopoly public insurer for basic car insurance and has been in a financial crisis since a review of the company was published last year. Over $1 billion in debt, the company has said it has been affected by a higher claims frequency and growing costs of repair.

“Even adjusting for confounding factors like a general increase in traffic volumes, we’ve seen these numbers go up,” UBC Okanagan professor in sustainable transportation safety and study co-author Gordon Lovegrove told CBC News.

Provincial Data

Since the new 120kph limit was introduced, researchers tracked the effect of the increased speed limit . Elsewhere in BC, the authors say there is only limited evidence showing all highway sin the province are becoming more dangerous with a 4.8-per-cent increase in injury claims on all highways.

“Travel in rural B.C. is particularly hazardous because of a harsh winter climate, mountainous terrain causing curvilinear alignments, fewer roundabouts (which reduce risk of side impact collisions), and the fact that large regions of the province are remote, with limited access to post-crash trauma care,” the paper says.