Last week the provincial government announced that it is reducing speed limits on 15 sections of highway throughout the province, including two stretches on Vancouver Island that many in the Cowichan Valley are very familiar with.
Duncan to Nanaimo is being reduced to 80 km/h from 90 km/h. The stretch from Parksville to Courtenay, which is heavily used by Mount Washington skiers from the south, is changing from 120 km/h to 110 km/h.
These aren’t really big changes, but they’ve sure spawned a big response from the public. Some are thrilled, while others believe it won’t change drivers’ behaviour and they’ll continue to speed anyway. Others are outraged that they’re going to have to slow down, since, as such folks always assert, they are great drivers. It’s everyone else who’s lousy.
But on stretch of highway that wasn’t mentioned is Highway 18 from Duncan to Lake Cowichan. It’s an area of blacktop that’s seen its share of serious and fatal crashes over the years, and can be tricky, especially in the winter. And let’s not forget the elk.
The speed limit on Highway 18, for most of its length, is 100 km/h. What folks often forget is that the speed limit is set as the maximum safe velocity for good weather, in daylight. It is not for poor weather and in the dark. Far too many people do not slow down when the conditions change from the optimum.
Then there’s the area from the end of the Malahat north to Duncan, through Mill Bay and Cobble Hill. This is often a very busy length of pavement, one is curious why the speed limit remains at 90 km/h here, but not north of Duncan.
So as we’re heading into the winter months, the question needs to be asked: is it time to consider a lower speed limit for Highway 18 and the Malahat south to Duncan? Most likely it would not deter those who speed crazily, since why would they pay attention to a new limit when they don’t the old one?
But would it increase safety and comfort for the majority?
Food for thought.