Last Updated: July 24, 2009
Speed limits on Saskatchewan highways vary. Under The Traffic Safety Act, it is generally against the law to drive a vehicle at a speed greater than 80 kilometres per hour (km/hr). However, the maximum speed for highways, or portions of them, may be set at a higher or lower limit. For example, the speed limit on most four lane, or "twinned", sections of Saskatchewan highways was recently increased to 110 km/h.
If the speed limit is something other than 80 km/hr, signs indicating the maximum speed must be posted. Municipal traffic bylaws establish speed limits within municipalities and they will differ again from highway speed limits. This article deals with speed limits on Saskatchewan highways.
Speeding offences are generally considered "voluntary payment offences", meaning that when a driver is charged with speeding they have the option of paying a prescribed fine without appearing in court. Different speeding offences carry different fine structures. Drivers caught speeding are generally fined a base amount for a particular offence, as well as an additional sum for each km/hr they are over the speed limit.
Drivers who exceed an 80 km/hr speed limit can pay a base fine of $70, plus an additional $1 for each km/hr they are over the speed limit for speeds up to 30 km/hr above the speed limit. For speeds greater than 30 km/hr over the speed limit the additional fine is doubled to $2 for each km/hr.
Saskatchewan law also requires drivers not to drive faster than is reasonable and safe in the circumstances. For example, when driving conditions are less than ideal due to factors such as rain, snow, ice, fog or smoke, drivers are required to slow down to a safe and reasonable speed. Drivers are also required to slow down to a safe speed when they encounter animals on or by the side of the road, and may only pass them when it is safe to do so. The voluntary payment for drivers charged with exceeding a speed that is reasonable and safe is $125.
The Traffic Safety Act now specifically addresses maximum speed limits for vehicles passing highway workers in the so-called "orange zone" or the "snow zone". Drivers are now required to slow down to 60 km/hr when passing a highway worker, flagperson or highway equipment, such as graders or snowplows, occupied by a highway worker. During heavy construction periods, drivers may experience some delays. Construction advisories and highway condition information is available through Saskatchewan Highways and Infrastructure at www.highways.gov.sk.ca.
Our law also now requires drivers to slow down to 60 km/hr when passing an emergency vehicle or tow truck that is stopped on the highway with its emergency lights in operation. Emergency vehicles include police vehicles, fire engines, ambulances and other designated emergency vehicles. This requirement doesn't apply to drivers travelling in the opposite direction on a divided highway that has a median between the two roadways. The voluntary base payment for drivers who exceed 60 km/hr while passing highway workers or emergency vehicles is $140, plus $2 for each km/hr they are over the speed limit for speeds up to 90 km/hr. The additional fine is doubled to $4 for each km/hr over 90 km/hr.
So, a driver who travels through a construction zone or passes an emergency vehicle at 100 km/hr could be facing a voluntary payment of $240, plus a "victim surcharge" of $60. The victim's surcharge is imposed on all provincial offences, in addition to any other punishment, to provide funding to victim's services programming throughout the province. These increased fines that apply to drivers passing highway workers or emergency vehicles are designed to protect the safety of highway workers, highway patrol officers and emergency personnel. While construction zones are often marked with reminders to slow down in the orange zone, drivers must be on the lookout for emergency vehicles and remember to slow down to at least 60 km/hr, or slower if necessary, when passing such vehicles. It not only makes sense - it's the law!
ISBN/ISSN number: 1918-1728