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Waterloo drivers are going slightly slower, new report says

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Drivers in the City of Waterloo have slowed down slightly, but not by a lot, according to a new report.

It comes after city council saw a need to lower the speed, so staff reduced many posted speed limits in Waterloo by 10 km/h or 20 km/h in a pair of wards.

Staff are seeing signs of their efforts after installing 498 reduced speed limit signs.

“What we noticed is that in general, drivers reduce their speeds in all of those areas by one to three km/h,” said Jenny Renaud, manager of transportation engineering for the City of Waterloo.

The new speeds in Wards 2 and 7 are now 30 km/h or 40 km/h where posted speeds were previously 50 km/hr.

The average driving speeds dropped by 2.3 km/h. Aside from the fastest 15 per cent of drivers, there has been a speed reduction of 4.4 km/h.

At first glance, it may not seem like it moves the needle much, but staff say otherwise.

“It’s statistically proven that the lower speeds have reduced the severity of injury or fatalities on roads,” said Renaud.

A City of Toronto study shows a reduction in vehicle operating speeds from 50 km/h to 40km/h increases the chance of survival from 15 per cent to 70 per cent for a pedestrian hit by a vehicle. This rate increased to 90 per cent for operating speeds of 30 km/h.

Reduced speed limits in Waterloo are also being credited for lowering speeds in school zones by an average of 2.3 km/h, where speed limits are often 30 km/h.

This slight reduction doesn’t come as a surprise to city staff.

“So that was exactly what we were expecting and advised,” said Renaud. “And that is based on the research that we did, not only in other Ontario municipalities, but those across Canada.”

While the city does consider this a success, it doesn’t mean people aren’t still speeding.

“We know that it’s not a silver bullet by just posting signs, but it is one step in that direction,” said Renaud.

Road design, including the size of it and what’s nearby, come into play too.

Three other wards will see reduced speed signs posted in the spring. The final two wards will see the reduced speed limits in 2025.

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