Transportation Picture of a 40 km/h speed limit sign

Published on February 16, 2015 | by Christopher Ciligot     Photography by Christopher Ciligot

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Ontario looking to curb speed limits

The Ontario provincial government has outlined four options it is looking into as possible ways to reduce speed limits in cities and towns across Ontario including lowering the standard 50 km/h.

The government is considering the possibility of keeping the status quo; reducing the limit to 40 km/h; and allowing cities and towns to legislate.

Former Toronto police officer of 31 years and current Justice Studies professor at the University of Guelph-Humber, John Irwin knows first-hand the repercussions of being hit by a speeding car.

“I had a friend whose daughter ran over her friend and she was just coming off a light. She was probably only doing 20 k…low speed, but the way she hit, the girl hit her head and it was over.”

Irwin says that lowering the speed limit is a good idea because although accidents will still happen there is a lower chance that accidents will be serious and tragic.

Irwin emphasizes that as speed increases, stopping distance doubles. He adds that the speed at which the vehicle is moving at the time of connecting with a pedestrian will make a difference in the injury.

“Speed tends to make it more likely it’ll be worse but you can’t say reducing the speed limit is going to stop anything from happening but, it does reduce some of the risk of something happening because you have more time to stop,” said Irwin.

Safety activists say the government is acting upon concerns from municipal officials as well as overwhelming amounts of incidents involving speed and young children.

Georgia Walsh a seven–year–old girl from Leaside Toronto was one of these children whose accident was fatal, when in 2014 was struck by a vehicle. People in here community lobbied for speed limit reductions for quite a while.

Irwin says that introducing these laws is the government’s way of recognizing that people are driving faster, cars are faster and people’s attention is in more places and something has to be done to lower the risk.

“It’s an awareness piece to becoming more socially conscious. We’re thinking about speeding and we’re thinking about being safe.”

The government is also considering speed reductions for school zones which has many parents and students happy that safety is being made a priority.

York University student Andrea Benitez says that in high density areas it’s important to have slower speed limits.

“In any place where a lot of people are crossing streets and intersections like a university it’s important that cars are going slower so they can stop sooner. Especially in areas with erratic pedestrians,” said Benitez.

Irwin suggests the way to enforce these new laws should they be put through, is to make sure people get penalized. In past years the government implemented photo radar to catch speeders and then mail them their ticket. Irwin says though this practice no longer exists, this would be the best way to enforce these laws as it’s cost effective and it worked.

“Our systems are more technological so we’ll probably see it. It’s cheaper than having a police officer on the street but we’ll probably first see it in high risk places like schools.”

Ontario’s transportation minister will begin meetings with municipal officials this spring to come to a conclusion on what would be the best decision.

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