What Are Some of the WORST Roads in Ontario?

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What Are Some of the WORST Roads in Ontario?

Worst Roads in Ontario


Every year, the Canadian Automobile Association publishes a list of the most dangerous roads in Ontario. Drivers are asked to nominate and then vote on which roads are in the worst shape. These “dangerous roads” often include major roadways that connect smaller communities, according to CAA spokesperson Christina Hlusko. These types of roads are essential for the people who live in the areas, and users often have no alternative routes. The list inevitably includes Toronto streets too, with Dufferin Street appearing as a long-time repeat offender, and Eglinton West taking fifth place for 2018. This year two streets in Niagara Falls also made the list. And the worst road in Ontario is no surprise: Burlington Street East in Hamilton takes the top spot for the second year in a row. County Road 49, last year’s “winner”, dropped to second place. Here is the whole 2018 list:

  1. Burlington Street East, Hamilton
  2. County Road 49, Prince Edward County
  3. Duckworth Street, Barrie
  4. Avondale Road, Belleville
  5. Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto
  6. Drummond Road, Niagara Falls
  7. Dufferin Street, Toronto
  8. McLeod Road, Niagara Falls
  9. Pelham Road, St. Catharines
  10. Lockhart Road, Innisfil

In addition to the provincial list, CAA publishes several regional “Top 5” lists. Toronto’s includes:

  1. Eglinton Avenue West
  2. Dufferin Street
  3. Yonge Street
  4. Eglinton Avenue East
  5. Steeles Avenue East

(It’s worth noting that Steeles Avenue has topped the provincial list ten times since the contest’s inaugural list in 2003!)


In Poor Repair

The intent of the CAA survey is to shine a light on roads that are in poor repair, in the hopes that action will be taken to make them safer. Some of the reasons why roads ended up on the list included potholes, broken pavement, bumps and other surfacing problems as well as congestion and ongoing construction. Some of these roads, and others in Ontario, have been the cause of accidents. Uneven pavement makes vehicle performance less predictable, and harder to control. Unexpected pavement drop-offs can even cause damage to vehicles. People may need to zigzag to avoid large potholes, posing a danger to cars in the opposite lane. Narrowing or closure of lanes due to construction leads to congestion and bottlenecks. Driver frustration plays into these situations, and can result in an increase in the number of accidents. In the city, these conditions often contribute to the deaths of more vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.


Safer Roads

The Ontario government maintains a database called the Ontario Road Network that catalogues over 275,000 kilometers of roadways, including municipal roads, provincial highways and resource and recreational roads. With so many roadways covering such a large area, it’s inevitable that some will become dangerous. But are there better ways to build and maintain roads in the province? Some European nations have studied available data and developed new ways of improving road safety. Many factors play into road safety – everything from gas prices to job losses, from road conditions to weather conditions, from the types of roads we build to driver education.


In Canada, road fatalities are approximately 6.0 per 100,000 in population. This compares to nearly double that number in the U.S. (10.9) and less than half that number in the U.K. (2.9). In general, European countries have done the best work in lowering rates of traffic fatalities. There are several reasons for this. These countries begin with an advantage of sorts: they live more compactly, so are not driving the same distances as North Americans do. But some other aspects of traffic in these countries could contain lessons for Canadians. For example, in the Netherlands, road fatalities in the 1970s were very high. Citizens there considered this an outrage, and protested until lawmakers decided to make changes in order to increase traffic safety.


The government in the Netherlands created “woonerfs” — areas in which pedestrians, bikes, and cars share space, and car speed is significantly limited. These woonerfs have now been adopted in many other European countries. In a woonerf, drivers and pedestrians don’t rely on signs or electronic signals, and instead use hand signals or nods to establish right-of-way. The Dutch also experimented with building safety features on all roads, using curves and roundabouts to slow cars, and building medians and bike lanes to aid vulnerable road users.


By contrast, North American roads and streets are often built with the goal of increasing traffic flow, using long straightaways. With increased speed, fatalities increase. To combat this, we then sometimes install speed bumps or radar traps. A more thoughtful road design would be a more efficient way to accomplish this safety goal. And of course, maintenance of roads is key. With so many roads in the running for the “Ontario’s Ten Worst” title, it’s obvious that we need to assess road safety in this province from every angle.

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