The province of Alberta keeps sixty million dollars in annual traffic ticket revenue from drivers who are caught breaking the speed limits on it’s highways.
It’s a guaranteed windfall, and though you’ll never get the government to admit it, that cash is likely one of the key reasons signs reading “Maximum 120” won’t be appearing alongside Alberta’s major highways anytime soon.
Never mind studies showing higher speed limits do not make highways more dangerous or convince drivers to push their pace ever higher, or the fact Canada has long maintained artificially low limits, in comparison to the rest of the industrialized world.
When it comes to speed limits, provinces like Alberta have too much to lose financially if they match limits to what most people actually drive, and thus Canada continues to lag in allowing motorists to take advantage of modern roads and technology.
And there it would have remained, if not for meddling British Columbia.
If you ventured west this summer, you saw the signs reading Maximum 120 along major highways like the Coquihalla, as well as higher limits on almost all roads in B.C.
Now boasting the highest speed limits in Canada (though still nine clicks shy of the 80 mph allowed in neighbouring Idaho), B.C. has bucked Canada’s refusal to consider higher limits, by actually studying the science of speed, and determining safety is not always intuitive.
Intuition is what tells you faster cars must crash more, or that a higher limit will only encourage drivers to break that law too. But repeated studies, including a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation, shows that doesn’t happen.