Articles / Game Changers

Safer roads by slowing down drivers

By Aviva Canada on

When you drive around Montreal and Toronto, you’ll notice lower speed limits.

In March of 2019, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante announced that over the next three years, Montreal would reduce speed limits all over the city as part of its Vision Zero initiative.

Announced in the fall and completed with new signage by the end of 2019, the borough of Ville Marie has reduced speed limits. On residential roads, speed limits were reduced from 40km/h to 30 km/h and on major streets from 50 km/h to 40 km/h. Ville Marie is just the latest of several other Montreal boroughs that have done the same.

Speed limit reduction is just one aspect of Montreal’s plan to make its roads safer. The three year plan also includes;

  • banning heavy trucks from certain streets
  • improving crosswalk visibility
  • adding countdown timers to pedestrian lights
  • improving pedestrian safety near schools

Why lower speed limits?

Speed limits are a crucial issue that Vision Zero aims to address within municipalities that utilize its strategies. In addition to Montreal, in June 2019, the City of Toronto also announced its intentions to reduce speed limits on major and residential streets.

The focus on speed limit reduction relates to two things.

The first being the way people get to and around cities across Canada. More people are using public transit and other mobility solutions, resulting in the need for increased pedestrian safety.

"Since four out of five people travel on foot, by bike or by shared transportation modes in the borough, it's essential that we improve active and public transit". - Valerie Plante, Mayor of Montreal

Second, the mortality rate in relation to speed. The City of Toronto shares the below information on how speed kills:

  1. Higher driving speeds reduce the drivers’ field of vision as well as peripheral vision and consequently, situational awareness, which is crucial for anticipating and reacting to unexpected events or sudden changes in roads conditions.
  2. The higher the speed, the greater the stopping distance required when braking, and as a result, the increased risk of collision.
  3. In the event that a collision occurs, an impact at higher speeds inflicts more severe blunt force trauma on victims. The most pronounced effect is for vulnerable road users who do not have protection.

The Edmonton Journal also suggests some reasons for reducing speed limits based on science: “In about 90% of cases, an adult male body can withstand the force of a collision with a vehicle driven by a person traveling at 30km/h (though for children and elderly with more fragile physiologies, the survivable speed is lower). Increasing speeds by what seems like small increments from behind the wheel nonetheless sees large drops in survivability for pedestrians. The same adult male struck by a driver travelling 45km/h is eight times less likely to survive. If the driver is traveling at 50m/h, the collision is almost certainly going to kill the pedestrian”.

What is Vision Zero

Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all. First implemented in Sweden in the 1990s, Vision Zero has proved successful across Europe — and now it’s gaining momentum in major North American cities.

To learn more about Vision Zero visit: www.visionzeronetwork.org

To learn more about Vision Zero in Canada visit: www.visionzero.ca