Highway 407 – It’s a love hate affair - Safety and Speed at a Price
January 16, 2020, Kitchener, Ontario
Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer
A new report released by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis called “Economic Impacts of Highway 407” revealed some very interesting facts about the economics of the 407 – this included safety and congestion statistics. Many people in Waterloo Region use the 407 regularly to either cross through Toronto on their way elsewhere, or to cut across a significant portion of Toronto and its gridlock highway traffic on their regular commute.
The 407 through Toronto is fast, far faster than the 401 on the same stretches through the city. According to CANCEA and average 413K commuter trips occur every weekday on the highway. The trips are smooth and fast with 85% of vehicles travelling at or above 100 km/h. This translates to a congestion index of almost zero. The higway is constantly moving fast even at peak congestion periods. Let’s compare that to the same stretches of 401 through Toronto where at the same time of day 85% of vehicles travel BELOW 50km/h.
The 407 is also substantially safer than the 401 in the same stretches. The annual collision rate is <0.30 crashes per million kilometres. It’s double that on the 401. Death rates are also half on the 407.
The 401 is a toll road, and even if you rent a transponder the tolls are high. However, commuters reap benefits in time saved driving to and from work or to and from appointments while working. CANCEA estimates that the spill over benefits are huge. Without the 407 the congestion on the 401 would be much worse due to increased volumes of traffic. The extremely high cost of the toll way (almost $70 end to end on a high demand period) means that most commuters cannot afford to use the toll way but for those who can or who have employers that appreciate the benefits reaped by using it the highway remains a fast reliable way to get around Toronto.
The analysis also goes on to value the time saved by people on personal trips. It’s estimated that almost 23 million hours have been saved annually translating to a total value for those drivers of $713 million. Business savings are also huge, at an annual of 4,300 FTE in 2017. Hours saved by employees can be reinvested into the economy. The social costs of accidents and emissions saved by using the toll highway are estimated to be $84 million in 2017.
Safety statistics are interesting:
Highway 407 ETR is safer than the rest of the network of major roads in the GTHA, as measured by a lower collision rate. This is due in part to more consistent speeds and lower traffic volumes, but may also be influenced by road quality and maintenance. This analysis only considers the impact of speed and volume on traffic collisions. Assuming that the relationship between highway speed and the accident rate would be the same as on other major Canadian highways, we find that on average, the number of collisions per year would be higher by 689 under toll-free conditions, due to the lower highway speeds. This would mean about twice as many collisions as the current average. Multiplying these additional accidents by the average social cost of traffic collisions, we estimate that social costs are $69 million lower than would be the case under toll-free conditions. The relatively low collision rate on Highway 407 ETR is perceived by its users. In the 2017 user survey, 78% percent of survey respondents reported finding the highway safer than their primary alternative.
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Deutschmann Law serves South-Western Ontario with offices in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Woodstock, Brantford, Stratford and Ayr. The law practice of Robert Deutschmann focuses almost exclusively in personal injury and disability insurance matters. For more information, please visit www.deutschmannlaw.com or call us toll-free at 1-866-414-4878.
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