EDITORIAL: No solution for driver impatience

Increasing speed along 16 Avenue is not the way to improve traffic flow and reduce crashes.

Speed limits on many of our region’s busiest thoroughfares have long been the subject of debate.

Depending on the road in question – not to mention the driver habits of the person making the argument – limits are too high, too low or occasionally, just right, and rare is the discussion in which the majority agrees.

The speed limits along 16 Avenue – which connects White Rock and South Surrey to its Fraser Valley neighbours – have been debated before, and are the topic of discussion again.

Some who regularly drive along the often-busy road believe the speed limit should be raised from 60 km/h to 80 km/h – at least along some stretches – believing that if all traffic is moving at roughly the same (higher) speed, then driver frustration, bottlenecks and the risk of crashes would be reduced.

The Township of Langley, meanwhile, is looking at ways to get drivers to slow and observe the current posted limit, both through the use of more signage as well as increased speed enforcement.

While the argument for higher speeds isn’t totally without merit, everyone knows that the faster a vehicle moves, the worse it and its passengers will fare in a crash.

But human nature is not an easy thing to overcome. We’re an impatient bunch – some more than others – and getting behind a slower-moving vehicle leads some drivers to take unnecessary risks with their own lives and those of everyone around them.

All of this occurs, mind you, for the sake of saving a few minutes or (more often than not) arriving at the next red light several seconds ahead of the car you just passed.

The truth is, even if the speed limit were raised to 80 km/h, law-abiding drivers would then find themselves being tailgated at 80 instead of at 60.

The people who live or operate businesses along the busy route – from Abbotsford to the Semiahmoo Peninsula – as well as those who cross it on a regular basis, already fear for their safety as they approach 16 Avenue. Adding another 20 km/h to the mix isn’t going to help.

But with two fatalities so far this year and another serious accident involving a transport truck late last month in Langley, it’s clear that something needs to change.

But it’s hard to make a convincing argument that raising the speed limit is the answer.