Variable Speed Limits

The goal of variable speed limits is to improve driver safety during unfavourable weather conditions and to reduce serious crashes in areas where weather patterns are prone to change quickly, making driving conditions dangerous.

Overview

Effective June 2, 2016 motorists are required to obey variable speed limit signs. Variable speed limit signs are regulatory, therefore, police have the authority to enforce the speed that is on the electronic sign.

How it Works

Drive to Conditions

A regular posted speed limit is a maximum speed set for ideal conditions. Variable speed limit signs display the legal speed limit when road and weather conditions change, for example, during snow or rain events.

Static message signs at the entrance to each corridor inform travellers they are entering a variable speed zone. A Digital Message Sign (DMS) at the beginning of each corridor warns drivers of changing weather conditions.

Flashing lights installed above each variable speed limit sign are activated when a reduced speed limit is in effect.

Traffic, pavement and visibility sensors monitor real-time traffic speeds as well as road and weather conditions to provide recommended reduced speeds back to operations staff who then adjust the electronic signs to let drivers know what speed they should be travelling for the current conditions.

All signs and sensors have backup power, but should a power outage occur, or a speed sign is blank, drivers are to maintain the speed of the last posted speed sign.

Even with a variable speed limit system, it is important that drivers know to travel to the conditions of the road, their vehicle, and their abilities.

Rules and Penalties

Variable Speed Limit Systems inform drivers of the regulatory speed limit for the current road conditions. The Motor Vehicle Act, sections 146 and 148 specifically address the requirements. Drivers failing to obey the posted variable speed limit may receive a traffic violation ticket carrying a fine of between $138 and $483 as well as 3 penalty points. Offences and infractions that include penalty points can lead to a driving prohibition and vehicle impoundment.

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