Will 50 km/h make any difference to speeders?

As expected, our story about the city lowering the speed limit on the Old Island Highway (Highway 19A) from 60 km/h to 50 km/h generated significant comment.

Most people welcomed the news that it will be 50 km/h for its full length. As it was, it was 50 km in Willow Point but then increased to 60 somewhere around Rockland Road before reducing again at 1st Avenue.

It always seemed kind of random that it “sped” up to 60 km/h, allowing you to go a tiny bit faster along the waterfront there.

Speed limits are kind of a funny thing, especially within town limits. Fifty km/h sometimes seems so darn slow. I agree with those people who commented that lowering the speed limit is not going to do anything to slow people down who currently don’t do 60 km/h, never mind 50.

There are two other areas where the speed limit is an issue. One is Alder Street where I think the residents did a pretty good job a few years ago of raising awareness that the limit on that street is 50 km/h but very few people, at that time anyway, actually followed that speed limit. I know it caught me realizing I didn’t really know that, although, of course, I should have. So now I am very conscious of my speed going down Alder.

Another area where speed is an issue is on Dogwood Street. Again, it allows you to speed up to 60 km/h once you enter the Beaver Lodge Forest Lands. But who actually limits their speed to 60 km/h? Well, some people do, I know that for a fact and I’m one of them – most of the time.

But the temptation to go faster in order to keep up with the rest of the traffic is powerful at times. Because there’s a lot of people who are actually going faster than 60 km/h.

RELATED: Speed limit going down to 50 km/hr on Old Island Highway

One thing I like to do is get in behind somebody who is actually doing the speed limit and stay with them (a respectable distance behind, of course). That stops me from giving in to the temptation to join all the other people whizzing by.

The problem with Dogwood Street in the Beaver Lodge Lands is that it’s like a highway in there with double lanes. It’s better than the Old Island Highway. I’ve even been in the left lane going the speed limit and some guy in a big truck has pulled up behind me and then abruptly changed lanes to go around me and gun it down Dogwood. I can just imagine him thinking “Idiot, get in the right lane if you’re going to go that slow.” But, of course, it’s not a highway so slow traffic keep to the right doesn’t apply. The speed limit is 60.

And of course, you wonder why the RCMP aren’t doing more speed enforcement there. I wouldn’t say it’s non-existent but it’s not very often I’ve seen anyone pulled over on Dogwood. You have to think that if they set up a radar trap they’d rake in thousands of dollars in speeding fines or points on any given day.

Now, of course, having said all this, I’ll get comments online from people saying “I drive the speed limit all the time.” Well, maybe you do but there’s lots of people who don’t.

Fifty kilometres is pretty slow but the research shows that slower speed limits reduce accidents and save lives. Studies show that a 1 km/h decrease in travelling speed would lead to a 2-3 per cent reduction in road crashes. But the introduction of speed limits only has a short-lived effect unless accompanied by sustained, visible enforcement (according to the World Health Organization).

But our police officers are currently pretty strapped for resources so enforcement comes with a price. But you can pay through your taxes ahead of time or through fines afterwards.

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