UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Road Safety Impact of Increased Rural Highway Speed Limits in British Columbia, Canada Brubacher, Jeffrey R; Chan, Herbert; Erdelyi, Shannon; Lovegrove, Gordon; Faghihi, Farhad

Abstract

Control of vehicle speed is a central tenet of the safe systems approach to road safety. Most research shows that raising speed limits results in more injuries. Advocates of higher speed limits argue that this conclusion is based on older research, that traffic fatalities are decreasing despite higher speed limits, and that modern vehicles are able to safely travel at higher speeds. These arguments were used to justify raising speed limits on rural highways in British Columbia, Canada (July 2014). We used an interrupted time series approach to evaluate the impact of these speed limit increases on fatal crashes, auto-insurance claims, and ambulance dispatches for road trauma. Events were mapped to affected road segments (with increased speed limits) and to nearby road segments (within 5 km of an affected segment). Separate linear regression models were fitted for each outcome and road segment group. Models included gasoline sales to account for changes in vehicle travel. Our main findings were significant increases in (i) total insurance claims (43.0%; 95% Confidence Interval [CI] = 16.0–76.4%), (ii) injury claims (30.0%; 95% CI = 9.5–54.2%), and (iii) fatal crashes (118.0; 95% CI = 10.9–225.1%) on affected road segments. Nearby segments had a 25.7% increase in insurance claims (95% CI = 16.1–36.1%).

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CC BY 4.0

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