Ontario to pilot higher speeds on three highways

John G Smith

TORONTO, Ont. – Posted speed limits will increase to 110 km/h along three stretches of Ontario highways as of Sept. 26, as the provincial government begins a pilot project to explore ways to improve traffic flows.

The posted speeds will be increased along 90 km of Highway 402 between London and Sarnia, 32 km of the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) from St. Catharines to Hamilton, and 102 km of Highway 417 from Ottawa to the Ontario-Quebec border.

The pilot sites were selected because their interchanges are typically spaced at least 3 km apart, and the highways require “minimal to no upgrades”.

Six other provinces have posted 110 km/h speed limits on selected highways, the province adds.

British Columbia, however, recently reduced the maximum speeds on several highways after boosting related speed limits to 120 km/h in July 2014. University of British Columbia (UBC) researchers fond that fatal crashes doubled on some of the routes with higher limits.

Groups including the Ontario Safety League and CAA South Central Ontario have already voiced support for the pilot project in their province.

“The Ontario Safety League traditionally bases their position on science, and the science tells us that although excessive speed is a factor in many crashes, under normal driving conditions and with reasonable driving attention it would have virtually no impact,” says Brian Patterson, president and CEO of the Ontario Safety League.

“A pilot program like the one announced today is a measured approach and an ideal way to gradually explore the subject of raising speed limits and determine the impact on road safety, added Teresa Di Felice, CAA South Central Ontario’s assistant vice-president of government and community relations. “Our collective goal is to both inform drivers about the importance of safely navigating Ontario’s roads, paying particular attention to weather and road conditions, and understand the data collected during this period to ensure that Ontario retains its standing of having some of the safest roads in North America.”

Public feedback on the changes will be collected through an online survey until Nov. 23.

“We want to hear first-hand from those who rely on our roads about how we can safely modernize our highways to better fit the needs of the people,” Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney said in a release.


John G Smith

John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, TruckTech, Transport Routier, Inside Logistics, Solid Waste & Recycling, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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  • Instead of raising the speed limit, why don’t we teach proper driving etiquette? Left lane is for passing. If we followed the rules, we wouldn’t have the congestion. Just my 2 cents.

  • Speed limits in Ontario were 110 KPH (70 MPH) in 1968, most people forget the reason why they were later lowered to 60? In 1976 the speed limit was lowered to 60 mph hwy and 50 mph city because of the ongoing 70’s oil embargo and recession. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1970s_energy_crisis Both the US and Canada lowered the speed limits to conserve oil and fuel consumption which was in short supply and being rationed in many regions. Unlike the USA the limit in Ontario was just never reinstated in Ontario! In mid 2000’s, Ontario, excessive speed accounted for 18% of all accidents, I wonder what percentage of this number was in winter conditions?. Today Cars are far more sophisticated, well capable of managing higher highway speeds, in general our roads are lagging in design compared to other similar nations but I feel still capable of handling the new proposed speeds. In my view the problem is our average drivers who are far worse than drivers of the 60’s and 70’s! I include car and truck drivers in this statement. Actual speeds will never go down from here on, regardless of posted limits! The modern auto is designed by OEM’s to cruise comfortably at a min of 110KPH by market demand and to reduce warranty costs. “You cant give an addict drugs and then expect them not to use them”! The real safety issue is not the speed limits on our highways but the average drivers ability to respect the limits and poses the skill to safely drive them! Operating a vehicle in Ontario is very unique compared to past highway conditions in Ontario and most other regions of the world which include, high traffic volume, highway speed thrown in with adverse weather conditions. Drivers should be able to demonstrate their competence to safely navigate our cities and highway systems, including skills at speed. Improve our driver training and testing programs to include this, 50% of driving in Ontario is done in snow and ice, training for this should be mandatory for licencing here. As a retired auto exec for 45 years as well as a car and motorcycle racer for as long, I agree with raising the limits but caution the powers to be to take a hard look at improving our driver training programs to be more suited to Ontario driving conditions.

  • I would just like to add that, different speeds between vehicles will only cause problems. Trucks are speed limited to 105 kms., so are the police going to enforce the new speed limit, left lane only for passing, and all the tailgating we see on these stretches of highways now, or is it still going to be the wild, wild west as it is NOW.