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Ontario reportedly looking at lowering default speed limits to below 50 km/h

In a bid to improve road safety and cut down on deaths on Ontario streets, the province is reportedly considering reducing speed limits.

The change could reduce the default speed limit from 50 km/h to 40 km/h.

The Toronto Star reports Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca will consult with municipalities to determine an action plan.

Del Duca wouldn’t elaborate to CityNews, but issued the following statement:

“The safety of Ontario’s roads and highways is my utmost priority, and making Ontario’s roads safer is part of my mandate as minister.”

Sources tell the paper the province is changing their tune on the issue in response to concerns from municipalities.

In 2012, the Toronto Board of Health issued a report calling for speed limits to be reduced to 30 km/h on residential streets and 40 km/h on major roads in the interest of public safety.

The report cited research claiming the chance of a cyclist or pedestrian dying in a traffic accident is drastically reduced if the car is moving more slowly. At 50 km/h there is an 85 per cent chance the victim will die. At 30 km/h the chance is cut to five per cent.

Click here to read the full report.

An Ontario coroner’s report on pedestrian deaths also called for lowering speed limits.

Then-mayor Rob Ford dismissed a similar recommendation from the Board of Health as “nuts, nuts, nuts.”

The Liberal government have four options:

  • keep the default limit at 50 km/h
  • change the provincial law to make the default speed limit 40 km/h
  • let municipalities choose between a 50 km/h or 40 km/h standard
  • let municipalities set different default limits within their boundaries, or within specific neighbourhoods

The World Health Organization has found that a pedestrian hit at 45 km/h has 50 per cent chance of being killed. When a person is struck by a vehicle travelling 30 km/h, the chance of surviving is 90 per cent.

The organization also found that a car travelling 50 km/h needs 13 metres to stop, but can stop in 8.5 metres or less if it is going 40 km/h. And an increase in speed by one km/h results in three per cent higher risk of crash involving injury, and a four to five per cent increase for crashes that kill.

Three pedestrians have died in Toronto so far in 2015, including a 58-year-old woman on Wednesday morning.

Another pedestrian is in critical condition after a hit-and-run near Finch and Midland avenues on Wednesday afternoon.

New York City, Paris, and London, UK have all lowered speed limits on downtown streets in recent years.