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B.C. works to improve rural highway safety


July 2, 2014
By Government of B.C.

July 2, 2014, Vancouver, B.C. – As a result of the
provincewide Rural Highway Safety and Speed Review, changes that will help
improve safety and mobility are coming to B.C.’s rural highways.

July 2, 2014, Vancouver, B.C. – As a result of the
provincewide Rural Highway Safety and Speed Review, changes that will help
improve safety and mobility are coming to B.C.’s rural highways.

 

This review was undertaken to assess four key aspects of
road safety on rural highways, including the setting of appropriate speed
limits, requirements for winter tires, keep right except to pass, and wildlife
collisions.

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SPEED LIMITS:

For the Speed Limit portion of the review, the ministry
assessed approximately 9,100 kilometres of rural provincial highway. The
ministry will take the following actions:

  • Adjust the speed
    limit on 35 sections of highway covering 1,300 kilometres (approximately 15% of
    the length of highway reviewed).
  • Introduce a new
    maximum speed of 120 km/h on certain sections of divided multi-lane highways.
  • Pilot variable
    speed zones on sections of the Trans-Canada, Coquihalla and Sea-to-Sky
    highways.
  • Commit to ongoing
    monitoring and evaluation of speed limits and safety measures with the Road
    Safety Executive Steering Committee.
  • Work to improve
    the way that data critical to identifying trends in highway safety is shared
    among all Road Safety Executive Steering Committee members.

 

WINTER TIRES:

As a result of technical analysis in the Winter Tire portion
of the review, the ministry will take the following actions:

  • Bring forward
    changes to the Motor Vehicle Act to clarify that Mud and Snow (M+S) and mountain/snowflake
    tires are defined as winter tires.
  • Modernize the
    studded tire and chain regulations.
  • Change the dates
    winter tires are required on high mountain passes to the new timeframe of
    October 1 to March 31 (was October 1 to April 30).
  • Install new winter
    tire signs to clarify the requirements.

    The ministry will
extend additional resources as it continues to work with its road safety
partners to promote the ‘Shift into Winter’ campaign, which reminds motorists
to prepare their vehicles, ‘know before they go,” and to drive to road
conditions.

 

KEEP RIGHT EXCEPT TO PASS:

The ministry will take the following actions following the
Slow-Moving Vehicle portion of the safety review:

  • Bring forward
    changes to the Motor Vehicle Act to give police better tools, through clearer
    language, to enforce the requirement for slower vehicles to keep right.
  • Adopt new signage
    and pavement markings to increase voluntary compliance of ‘keep right’
    requirements.
  • Pilot signage on
    Highway 4 advising motorists with more than five vehicles following to pull
    over.

 

WILDLIFE COLLISIONS:

Through the technical analysis as part of the Wildlife
Safety review, measures have been identified that can further improve safety on
corridors with higher instances of wildlife collisions. The ministry will take
the following actions:

  •  
    Pilot two active
    wildlife detection systems on Highway 3 between Cranbrook and Sparwood.
  •  
    Install gateway
    signs at the entrance to highway corridors with higher instances of wildlife
    collisions.
  •   Increase the use
    of flashing LED warning signs in high crash locations.
  •   Increase the use
    of wildlife fencing in high crash locations.
  •   Additionally, the
    ministry will continue to monitor wildlife incidents, identify high-risk
    sections, and           implement further measures such as required.

 

Safety of motorists on provincial highways remains a number
one priority. The Province will continue to closely monitor safety on all
provincial highways and is committed to the ongoing evaluation and monitoring
of speed limits and safety measures, working closely with the road safety
community through the Road Safety Executive Steering Committee.

 

This committee includes the ministry as well as health
professionals such as the Provincial Health Officer and the Chief Coroner, the
RCMP and local law enforcement, ICBC, WorkSafeBC, and RoadSafetyBC. The
Province will also work to improve the way that data critical to identifying
trends in highway safety is shared among all committee members.

 

The number of serious crashes on provincial highways has
decreased by 28% since 2003. This is the direct result of targeted and
strategic enforcement, driver education, improved vehicle technology, and
increased penalties.

 

Also contributing to this reduction in serious crashes is
the government of B.C.’s investment of nearly $14 billion into highway
infrastructure since 2003. This investment includes the addition of:

  • 6,500 kilometres
    of rumble strips,
  • 80 intersection
    improvements, many on high-crash locations identified by ICBC,
  • 180 kilometres of
    new four-lane and six-lane highway,
  • 30 new passing
    lanes,
  • 28 new
    roundabouts, and
  • 15 active warning
    sign systems, including vehicle activated warning signs, LED directional
    arrows, congestion signs and message signs connected to weather stations.

 

Public consultation for the Rural Highway Safety and Speed
Review took place from Nov. 29, 2013 to Jan. 24, 2014. Concurrently, the
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure conducted technical work,
including research from other jurisdictions, and an engineering assessment of
the speed, safety, design and land use for all of the individual highway
segments identified for speed increases.

 

Public input and information gained through the technical
review was used to identify and prioritize these highway and safety
improvements.

 

The speed limit increases are supported by an engineering
assessment of each section and are approved by the Ministry of Transportation
and Infrastructure’s Chief Engineer. Speed limits are the maximum speed for
ideal conditions. Drivers are reminded to check DriveBC before leaving home and
to reduce speed in inclement weather or poor road conditions.