Province to pilot test 110 km/h speed limit on part of Highway 417

‘Stunt Driving’ punishment threshold would remain at 150 km/h

TORONTO — Days after the provincial transportation minister mused about boosting the legal top speed on 400-series highways, the Ford government is set to test a 110 km/h limit at three pilot sites — including Highway 417 from Gloucester to the Quebec border in Eastern Ontario.

Slated to start in mid-September, the pilot will include province-wide consultations on safely increasing highway speeds “to align with other provinces and how people currently drive,” according to the government. Six other provinces have adopted limits of 110 km/h or higher on certain highways.

Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell announced the 417 leg of the test program today. McDonell says the government wants to hear the public’s suggestions on “how to best modernize Ontario’s highway network to better serve their needs.”

“Results from the pilot and all feedback received during consultations will be carefully considered as a part of the final decision-making process,” adds Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek. “We’re also working with our road safety and enforcement partners.”

Within the 110 km/h pilot zones, street-racing penalties will apply at 40 km/h over the posted speed limit, not the usual 50 km/h over. (Those on-the-spot punishments — including immediate seven-day licence suspensions and the impounding of involved vehicles for the same period — have the enthusiastic support of the Ford Tories despite being brought in by the previous Liberal government.) “Safety is the government’s number one priority and each pilot location was carefully chosen based on a number of factors, including its ability to accommodate higher speed limits,” says Yurek.

Planned additional safety measures include increased signage and “messaging,” according to the province.

Advocates of a higher speed limit on 400-series highways have long noted the system was designed for higher speeds and originally opened with a posted limit of 70 miles per hour — or 113 km/h.

Two other pilot sites have been identified to date: Highway 402 from London to Sarnia and the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) from St. Catherines to Hamilton. The Transportation ministry says it’s exploring options for a fourth site in Northern Ontario.

“Public safety on our roads and highways is our number one priority.  We  believe a speed limit of 110 km/h, with appropriate enforcement, can be safely implemented to evaluate the impacts of increase speed limits on Ontario ‘s road,” says McDonell.

“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 the President and CEO of the Ontario Safety League, Brian Patterson.

“CAA is pleased to continue working with the Ministry of Transportation to help educate and inform motorists on safe driving. It is important that drivers pay particular attention to weather and road conditions and adjust accordingly, regardless of the posted speed limit,” says Elliott Silverstein, CAA South Central Ontario, describing the pilot program as an “ideal way to gradually explore the subject of raising speed limits and determine the impact on road safety.”

 

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