Residents have been reaching out for more information about the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) Pilot Project. I am happy to provide an update. Saanich and other municipalities have expressed an interest in reduced speed limits in residential areas. Last year, we asked the province to provide municipalities with the authority to change the default speed limit to allow for community-wide reductions in speed limits. On Nov. 25, 2019, Saanich council sent a letter to Premier John Horgan requesting a review of the default speed limits.
In reply, the province will allow pilot projects that research, test, and evaluate new regulatory approaches to matters not currently set out in the MVA framework. This project falls within these parameters. It would reduce the default speed limit to 40km/h on streets without a continuous yellow centreline.
Benefits include reducing vehicle operating speeds and enhancing neighbourhood livability. There will be greater opportunity for residents to be physically active, increase mental wellness and social interactions. Reduced vehicle speeds also have significant safety benefits of fewer and less severe collisions.
From 2015 – 2019, Saanich had 254 reported collisions per year on local roads, 28 per cent of which resulted in injury or fatality. Collisions on our local roads represents a yearly total societal cost of approximately $24 million, plus additional great non-financial costs.
Research confirms vehicle speeds are the ultimate factor in crash severity. A pedestrian hit at 50 km/h or greater, has only a 20 per cent chance of surviving. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) states that a 1.6 km/h reduction in operating speeds can result in a 17 per cent decrease in fatal collisions. Reducing speeds to 40 km/h will result in significant safety and livability gains on our residential roads.
The pilot project is a unique opportunity for Saanich as a community. Council as well as staff and the police board, look forward to the implementation of this pilot and the wide range of expected benefits.
– Fred Haynes is mayor of the District of Saanich