Ontario permanently boosts speeds on six highway segments

Six sections of southern Ontario highways will see speed limits permanently set at 110 km/h beginning April 22, up from the 100 km/h seen on most 400-Series highways.

The affected segments include:

  • Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) from Hamilton to St. Catharines (32 km)
  • Highway 402 from London to Sarnia (90 km)
  • Highway 417 from Ottawa to the Ontario/Quebec Border (102 km)
  • Highway 401 from Windsor to Tilbury (approximately 40 km)
  • Highway 404 from Newmarket to Woodbine (approximately 16 km)
  • Highway 417 from Kanata to Arnprior (approximately 37 km)
higher Ontario speed map
(Illustration: Ontario Ministry of Transportation)

Work on related pilot projects began in the fall of 2019. And the Ontario Ministry of Transportation says operating speeds and collision trends on affected sections of highway are comparable to similar sections of highways where speeds remain at 100 km/h.

Trials of 110 km/h speed limits will also be introduced in Northern Ontario. Those will cover about 55 km of Highway 400 from MacTier to Nobel, and 45 km of Highway 11 from Emsdale to South River.

“With road safety top of mind, these sections have been carefully selected based on their ability to accommodate higher speed limits,” said Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, in a related release.

The province notes that six other provinces have posted speeds above 100 km/h on certain segments of highways. Those include Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia.

But B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure rolled back its 10 km/h increases on 15 sections of highways in 2018 after pilot projects that began in 2014 showed an uptick in speed-related collisions. University of British Columbia professors saw fatal collisions rise 118% on roads with higher speed limits, along with a 43% increase in total auto insurance claims.

Ontario didn’t release specific data from its pilot project.

Two Ontario mayors cited the value of higher speeds to support the economy.

“The Province of Ontario recognizes the importance of our economic trade corridors, especially here in southwestern Ontario,” said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. “Adjusting the speed limits recognizes that vehicle safety and fuel efficiency has evolved since these limits were previously set. Today’s announcement is a common sense approach which preserves safety while locally recognizing conditions across Ontario.”

“The 400-Series Highways are the lifeblood of Ontario’s economy. The efficient movement of goods along these roadways helps ensure a stronger, more prosperous Ontario and I welcome the continued management of, and investment in, this vital area,” added Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff.

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