The National Freeway Bureau’s (NFB) decision to raise the speed limit inside the Hsuehshan Tunnel (雪山隧道) has reportedly had some success in easing traffic congestion on Freeway No. 5, with the bureau reporting yesterday that the decision had helped increase the average driving speed by between 3kph and 6kph in both the northbound and southbound lanes.
Kang Jhy-fu (康志福), director of the bureau’s traffic management department, said the decision had also been proven effective in raising the freeway’s capacity during high-volume hours.
The average traffic volume between 1pm and 8pm on Sunday, when many people are returning home, has risen from 2,343 motorized vehicles per hour to 2,479 per hour, a 5.8 percent increase, he said.
To ease congestion on Freeway No. 5 during holidays, the bureau raised the speed limit for vehicles driving inside Hsuehshan Tunnel — the longest tunnel on the freeway — from 80kph to 90kph, a decision that went into effect on Nov. 1.
However, when the bureau first made the announcement earlier this year, some people expressed concern that the decision would increase the risks of accidents on the freeway.
Statistics from the bureau show the new policy drastically reduced the number of speeding violations from 152 in October to 58 last month.
However, after the new policy came into force, the bureau found that more motorists swerved between lanes and failed to keeping a safe driving distance between vehicles.
The bureau kept the speed limit inside the tunnel at 70kph when the tunnel was first opened to traffic in 2006 because of fire safety concerns. That policy sparked complaints from motorists, forcing the bureau to raise the speed limit to 80kph in 2008.