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Road Safety Impact of Increased Rural Highway Speed Limits in British Columbia, Canada
Jeffrey R Brubacher 1 , Herbert Chan 1 , Shannon Erdelyi 1 , Gordon Lovegrove 2 , Farhad Faghihi 2
1  The University of British Columbia, Department of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4, Canada
2  The University of British Columbia (Okanagan Campus), School of Engineering, Faculty of Applied Science, Kelowna, British Columbia V1V 1V7, Canada

Published: 04 October 2018 by MDPI in Sustainability
MDPI, Volume 10; 10.3390/su10103555
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%).
Keywords: speed, Road Trauma, speed limits, Road fatalities
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