Tuesday, October 18, 2011



Two other couples were enjoying an autumn weekend in a B & B with Mary and me when the transmission of my van started acting up. You know, Dodges when they get to 125,000 kms,
So I limped back to Toronto at 100 km/h because the traffic would have run right over the top of me if I had gone slower.
Just another example of how 99% of Ontario drivers drive faster than the speed limit on our highways. Trouble is, they drive at a mixture of speeds because not all of them feel they can trust the unstated deal by the OPP to let you go 116 or so without worry.
I have made the case to three transportation ministers over the years  that when Queen's Park insists on a 100 speed limit on  Highway 401, all it does is encourage scofflawism.  And it is not healthy in a democracy to have too many laws,  bylaws and regulations that everyone ignores.
One of those ministers confessed that if he stuck to the speed limit, his trip to Queen's Park after a weekend in his riding would really be an ordeal.
Strangely enough, some of my colleagues on the Ontario Safety League, a volunteer advisory agency on safety, particularly on the roads, didn't share my views that it is silly to post speeds of 100 when most traffic routinely goes at 115 and a few at  120, and the OPP only pull you over for greater speeds than those, or for erratic driving
What prompts me to return to this chestnut of an issue is that the British Parliament is raising the national speed limit on major roads, which is already 70 mph or 112 km/h, to 80 mph or 128 km/h.
The justification is that the transport ministry says this will be a fiscal improvement because it would reduce travel times.  The minister says that in the four decades since the speed was set at 112, there has been a large decline in fatalities. Officials think that faster legal speeds would be safer too. I'm not sure I would agree with that but the experts say that accidents happen when you have vehicles moving at much different speeds and we certainly get that now.
Environmentalists have rushed to condemn this, saying it will increase fuel consumption. An interesting argument since one could argue that a stream of traffic moving easily at 120 would not be burning much more gas than the present dog's breakfast of different speeds.
For me, the major problem in driving our 400 series of super roads is the rogue 18-wheelers which will ride your bumper in the middle lane even if you're doing 120.
Let the cops pull them over after they see their traumatic stunts, and go after the idiots running at 130  or more, and leave the rest of us to cruise easily and safely at a speed that is definitely not the one that  authorities post.


Tim G, said...

John: ontario based 18 wheelers are governed at 105. One out of 20 might be doing more than 105, and usually is an older or out of province based vehicle. As a professional driver, I don't want the limits raised as I once did. There is just too much volume and too great a mix of vehicles and speeds for an even greater speed differential to exist.

Chris said...

While extensively researching the speed limits topic and considering a fight with the government to get it increased, I have stumbled upon your article. I have enjoyed it until you said "and go after the idiots running at 130 or more".

You have just lost my faith and clearly contradicted yourself. Have you ever driven at 140 or 150 on 401? Did you feel like endangering anyone? Did you not see at least 10 other vehicles moving comfortably and safely at such speeds (140)? Speeds of 130-140 are indeed quite acceptable in the modern world (many EU countries, at least in the "tolerance" area). If the UK makes 128kmh legal, how does driving 131 qualify one as an idiot per your statement?

Too bad you've ended your article like this. In fact, if our lawmakers deciding the increase in the limits saw it, you'd be discredited right away. Their major claim is that raising the limit to 120 will make people drive 140. WHICH in my view is still extremely safe (and in my battle I will attempt to demonstrate that!). Your argument was just burnt down by your own final conclusion. That's the music to the gov't ears... (in fact, that how apparently they've killed one 120kmh proposal a few years ago - by saying people will drive "recklessly" at 140 - a legal speed in some countries around the world!)