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FEATURED COMMENT – Many problems with study on Coquihalla speed

Faster on the Coq. (Govt of B.C. photo)

Re: Editorial – Study on Coquihalla crashes needs to be taken seriously

Mel: congratulations to you for once, taking a more cautious approach to some propaganda coming from the sustainable transport / Vision Zero promoters.

With respect to the Post Media story about the study, Is it reporting, or simply mischievous advocacy to be writing “Speed Limit hikes… Led to Vastly more fatalities…” when causes of, or contributing factors for crashes were not examined or determined by the study authors?

The authors’ own research indicates speeds hardly changed in affected areas (average speeds changed from 94.0 to 94.3); MOTI numbers indicate some actually went down. I’m not persuaded that even the study claim about higher numbers of crashes / fatalities is correct given by the authors’ own admission there’s a margin of error of 10 to 225%.

There are many problems with this study, including, but not limited to:

1) the authors have an agenda, and it’s not to be the drivers’ friend. It’s not a stretch to say they are working for the minimal use / elimination of the private automobile. They cannot accept, nor have they ever accepted that highway speed limits should be the responsibility of the capable engineers responsible for MOTI. Rather, they want “Safe Speed Systems” limits on our highways and roadways.

This is a Vision Zero dream where everyone is limited to 30 km/h in cities and 70 km/h on undivided highways. Small wonder these are the same people promoting full time automated enforcement on BC Roads, as it’d be a guaranteed money maker when one sets the groundwork for mass civil disobedience by drivers.

2) Their data and methodology is full of holes. Don’t take my word for it, refer to this critique by another promoter of sustainable transport (in other words, one of “them”) with the University of Washington who says “In short, I would not have recommended publication if I had been a peer reviewer, due to many unusual and unexplained analytical decisions, inadequate description of methods, and a lack of robustness checks to ensure that the claimed results were not just a statistical quirk.” http://faculty.washington.edu/dwhm/2018/10/11/did-bcs-speed-limit-increase-lead-to-more-deaths/.

3) They’ve based their entire thesis around the concept that correlation equals causation. If you’re going to claim speed is the cause of something, surely you’d examine speed’s role in collisions? No, unbelievably they did not.

So here’s what should be an easy question for anybody to understand and fashion some logic from: if speed limits are 110 but I drive 125, and the next day the sign says 120 and I continue to drive 125; when I crash, is the sign to blame? That’s what the study authors spent a lot of time and money (presumably tax payers’ money) to have us believe.

IAN TOOTILL

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About Mel Rothenburger (6186 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on FEATURED COMMENT – Many problems with study on Coquihalla speed

  1. Ross Lowndes // October 19, 2018 at 11:40 AM // Reply

    I travel the Coq, more frequently lately, than I used. I see many drivers who don’t move to the right if not passing. Exceed the speed limit regardless of conditions. Never check the mirrors, don’t signal, all these behaviours combined with higher speeds means when a crash occurs it usually results in higher injuries or death. It’s poor driving habits and excessive speeds that cause most mishaps. However at a higher speed, the carnage is usually magnified. I worked highway rescue, I have seen this first hand.
    Driving is a privilege not a right. If you ignore basic road rules you should pay. If you crash and are found to have been speeding should we reduce your settlements based on the extra damage because of speed? Should we used rate of speed cameras as in Europe? Maybe if it cost people directly the abuser paid we could all be safer and good drivers pay less.

  2. I drove the Coquihalla yesterday, I am writing this comment from a hotel in Burnaby. Just one crash slowed us down and it was near Burnaby hence technically not on the Coquihalla, but it doesn’t matter since drivers’ inattention was likely to blame. Of course, if one is inattentive but drives at a reasonable speed then maybe it will more than likely survive the crash or perhaps avoids the crash altogether. Not so if one drives at a higher rate of speed.
    But let me go back to my latest driving experience on the Coquihalla. Driving it (and driving in BC in general) is like playing a game of Russian roulette albeit with perhaps just a few less odds of getting flattened. The large amount of road pachyderms (heavy transport trucks) which are driven slow up and down those hills and then unreasonably fast on all the flat stretches are a huge concern. The lighter traffic zipping all over the place (even passing on the right) to get around them up and down those hills and then driving even faster trying to stay ahead of them on the flat stretches are another huge concern. I am a good driver, with a very good record and the veichcle I drive is well maintained, I even checked the tire pressure just prior to leave for the trip. I try to limit the amount of driving I do, certainly because the obvious environmental impact but also because our roads have become increasingly more dangerous especially since the speeds limits have gone up. Because increasing the speed limits has been a “de facto” sanctioning for speeding. The road engineers may well have built roads capable of supporting higher speed limits but the general populace is definitely designed to, at most, drive at 100km/h on the highway and 30km/h on residential roads…because you are not the only one out there and because driving is a privilege not a right.

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