Higher speeds contribute to a higher risk of serious injuries and fatalities by reducing driver reaction time, increasing the vehicle stopping distance, and inflicting more severe blunt force trauma on victims upon impact.
The City of Toronto is currently reducing speed limits to curb speeding on our roads. This is part of a holistic Speed Management Strategy as outlined in the City’s Vision Zero Road Safety Plan.
Higher speeds contribute to a higher risk of serious injuries and fatalities in three ways:
The table below shows the rate of killed and serious injury (KSI) collisions in each Community Council area per 100 km of roadway between 2014 and 2018 by road classification. The overrepresentation of KSIs on arterial and collector roads has informed the prioritization methodology of the Speed Management Strategy.
|(2014–2018) Killed and Serious Injuries (KSI) by Road Class per 100 km|
|Road Class||Scarborough||North York||Toronto and East York||Etobicoke York||Overall|
The City’s Speed Management Strategy aims to reduce the number of traffic-related injuries and fatalities associated with speeding through short and long-term measures, which include revised speed limit setting practices, road design improvements, automated speed enforcement, enhanced police enforcement, proactive deployment of Watch Your Speed signs, and public education and engagement campaigns.
Speed limit reduction is considered a shorter term initiative that can be implemented quickly but is not as effective as some of the longer term initiatives such as modifying the design of the roadway, which take several years to plan, program, design and implement.
More details about the City of Toronto’s Speed Management Strategy are in the June 2016 Vision Zero 2.0 – Road Safety Update staff report to City Council.
Considerations of speed limit reductions were made for all minor arterial roads with current speed limits over 50 km/h and all collector roads with current speed limits over 40 km/h. Each segment was evaluated and exceptions to speed limit reductions were made based on the following criteria:
The criteria is intended to exclude road segments where lower speed limits would be artificially low for the existing road environment and that create significant speed differentials, which would be a safety concern. However, exceptions were not made in the following situations:
The table below summarizes the approach to lowering the posted speed limits in arterial, collector and local roads.
|Road Classification||Proposed Change||Process||Implementation|
|Major Arterial||60 km/h to 50km/h||Vision Zero 2.0 Report||2020–2021|
|Minor Arterial||60 km/h to 50km/h||Future reports to appropriate Community Councils by end of 2019||2020–2021|
|Collector||50 km/h to 40km/h||Future reports to appropriate Community Councils by end of 2019||2020–2021|
|Local||50 km/h or 40km/h to 30km/h||Future reports to appropriate Community Council||2021–2026+|
The first phase of the Speed Management Strategy, from November to December 2019, saw the speed limit on approximately 250 kilometres of major arterial roadways reduced from 60 km/h to 50 km/h. The second phase was completed in 2020 and saw the speed limit on approximately 250 kilometres of minor arterial and collector roadways reduced from 50 km/h to 40 km/h.
The third phase of the Speed Management Strategy, which began in July 2021, is currently reducing the speed limit on local roads and public lanes in Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough to 30 km/h to bring the rest of the city in line with a consistent 30 km/h speed limit on all local roads. (Speed limits on local roads and public lanes in the Toronto East York Community Council area were approved in 2015 and 2016 and have been since completed.)
Speed limit reductions on local roads and public lanes in Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough is a multi-year, data-driven effort that will be rolled out on a systematic, ward-by-ward basis.
The City has completed the reduction of the speed limit on local roads and public lanes in Humber River-Black Creek and is currently reducing the speed limit in York Centre and Scarborough Centre.
You can use the Vision Zero Mapping Tool to view where the speed limits have been changed in Toronto.
There’s little evidence that the proposed speed limit reductions will impact travel times.
Studies have shown travel time is more dependent on congestion, roadway design and geometry factors than on the posted speed limits. Under medium congestion levels (where traffic is periodically able to travel at or near the speed limit), a lower speed limit may actually reduce overall travel time by allowing a smoother traffic rhythm because lower speeds reduce safe space required between vehicles.
Additionally, unlike in freeway conditions, the average speed for a typical trip is well below the posted speed limits of arterial roadways in the urban road environment
The average speed is more dependent on the nature of stop-and-go traffic as a result of congestion, roadway design and geometry factors than on posted speed limits
The City, alongside the Toronto Police Service (TPS), identify high-risk locations at which traffic enforcement officers can be strategically deployed. Based on collision data, these locations are identified as hot spots for speed-related injuries or areas with a high risk of collisions.
Targeted enforcement in the these locations (usually on arterial, minor arterial and collector roadways) is paired with automated enforcement through red light cameras at high-risk traffic signals and Automated Speed Enforcement in Community Safety Zones near schools.
The City will be continually running an education campaign to inform residents about speed limit reductions in the city. Messages will be featured in out-of-home advertising spaces (bus backs, transit shelters, etc.), print ads, digital ads and social media in addition to radio spots. The below is an example of most recent campaign about speed limit reductions in the city.