Q&A - Speed on the Coquihalla

Q&A ImageWe travel Highway 5 from Hope to Kamloops two times each year. We are concerned about the increase in speed to 120 from 110. Many of the drivers go well above that limit which causes dangerous conditions. Concerned for our safety.


No need to worry!

The Coquihalla (Highway 5) Serious Crash rate - as well as the percentage of drivers exceeding the limt -  has reduced since that limit was increased to 120 km/h.

Much to the surprise of many, I dare say.

You'll find more data here, check Page 8.

I travel that stretch of road

I travel that stretch of road this summer at least 3 times and I put my cruise control at 130Km/h and was very rarely passed - and very rarely did I overtake anyone who was travelling considerably slower than I was (with the exception of some transport trucks).  I was actually quite impressed with how uniformly the traffic flowed.


Why would you knowingly break the law for your entire drive? And if the speed limit was still 110 km/hr, would you still choose to break the law by setting you cruise control at 130 km/hr?

I find besides being selfish, it odd that drivers purposely choose to break the very laws they had to Obey in order to obtain their Privilege to operate a motor vehicle in the first place. Driving at even 10 km/hr over the speed limit on your road exam would have resulted in an automatic FAIL.

 I choose the best reason to

I choose the best reason to exceed the speed limit - safety.  In many stretches of road (all?) the median speed of travel is above the speed limit.  I'd be crazy not to travel with the flow of traffic since it is the safest option.

Reducing Risk of Collision is Safe - Obviously!

Yo, DamnIHateThat! You may be encouraged to know that the fundamental principles of Defensive Driving are based on maintaining Visibility for the Driver & Space for the Vehicle. This combination provides the necessary Time to React when things do go wrong. An 'accident' (still a term in common usage, though collision or crash is indeed a better descriptive as 'accident' suggests random chance or something that isn't preventable) cannot take place unless two or more objects try to occupy the same space at the same time. These concepts certainly aren't my idea, though!

They were developed by the Smith System Driver Improvement Institute, the premier Driver Safety Training organization in North America.

I have taught the principles of Smith System driving to many people over the years - particularly to those requiring mandatory remedial instruction as a result of too many speeding tickets, as it happens.

Smith System is taught to Greyhound Bus drivers as being among their essential skills. Smith System is taught to RCMP Officers as being among their essential skills.

In fact, if you click on that link, you'll see that Smith Sytem is simply the pre-eminent Defensive Driving organization.

Obviously, as Phil points out (quite often, really) Distracted Driving is a root cause of many collisions; but a Distracted Driver can't hit you if there's a sufficient buffer of space between you.

Equally obviously, as Phil has also pointed out (quite often, really) Impaired Driving is a significant cause of many collisions; but an Impaired Driver can't hit you if there's a sufficient buffer of space between you.

As for Speeding, well that's been cited as the cause for crashes by the Police (who give most of their attention to it) for decades, now. And certainly, it's a very significant factor in many crashes and not to be ignored!

But for anybody to suggest that obeying all the rules and regulations rigidly is the cure-all when it comes to staying safe on the roads is absurd. It's far more important to follow the basic principles of Smith System driving - managing space and visibility, in order to always have time to react - and quite frankly, if everybody else is doing 130 km/h then I'll be doing 130 km/h too, while maintaining my space cushion as much as possible.


It's safer, that way!

exessesive speed for condtions

130 is fine until some goes wrong.Imagine that semi driver's terror when he saw that line of cars stopped and he couldn't. Imagine the terror of those being hit. Stopped-following the rules.

Good to have so many well qualified posters on this site.Obviously BC has a growing road safety issue and there needs to be more investment in education and enforcement.


90 Km/h is also fine until

90 Km/h is also fine until something goes wrong.   Choosing a speed to travel means factoring in that increased speed means less reaction time, increased stopping distance and probably many other negatives.  Over the course of my trip I will encounter fewer drivers if I travel with the flow of traffic.  That's fewer distracted drivers, impaired drivers, drivers with mechanical issues, drivers with unsafe loads, etc.  Whether that's 120Km/h or 8 percent faster or slower isn't the primary indicator of who will get in an collision, in my opinion at least.  As a driver, we can choose to drive more slowly, we can increase the space around our vehicle to the next vehicle.  We can also choose vehicles and tires which give us very short stopping distances and better than average traction etc.

facts on increased accidents and speed

The facts are that the number of crashes have increased by over 50,000 and the injuries and fatalities have increased since speed limits were raised and slower drivers in left lanes were targetted with a new law.The message has been clear from the BC Goverement who want traffic to move faster. There is quite a cost to this approach, but few seem too concerned publicly. I think the  silent majority recognize that this policy has made BC Roads more unsafe-the people who vote.


As Tim writes often, it is up to everybody to do their part, but when the leadership accepts higher numbers of  crashes, injuries, deaths  ,as just  a cost of going faster-there is simply not much any one can do but vote for change in 2017.

Experience of a regular Coq. driver

I live in the Interior and travel that highway at least 4 times a month, though I tend to use it at non-peak times. If you don't do so already, I suggest driving in the climbing lane (where one exists). I always drive in the climbing lane to give myself more separation from those who don't want to do the speed limit, in case something happens. I've observed that the people doing 140+ generally always drive in the far left lane.

My own concern with that highway is not so much people travelling at 130-140 km/hr (as a noticeable number of people do now), but people tailgating at that speed (who don't seem to understand the "except to pass" portion of the keep right law). I'm of the opinion that autonomous cars could resolve speeding and tailgating related issues, once the technology has been sufficiently developed.

Speed Kills Your Pocketbook 2

For those who were interested in this issue on the Coquihalla, the folks at SENSE BC have a new video to view

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