We’ve all seen these unofficial roadside memorials, marking the spot where a loved one was killed in a road accident. Memorials are seen on rural roads so often because 40 per cent of all fatal collisions occur in Ottawa’s rural areas (2017-2021 data).
Eliminate distractions and slow down
A major hazard on rural roads is drivers who are distracted, impaired and/or speeding. Distracted driving is not just texting – you can be distracted by a child onboard or the pet who’s along for the ride.
Rural areas offer quiet, beautiful drives, but the open roadways provide a false sense of security. They have sudden turns and hidden intersections (if you aren’t familiar with the road), soft shoulders (which, if taken at speed, lead to loss of control) and slow-moving tractors and farm equipment.
Rural areas present unique challenges like wildlife on the road. In a flash, a deer can spring out in front of your vehicle. It can happen day or night, with deadly consequences for both driver and wildlife. Here’s what you can do:
- Scan the sides of the road ahead, looking for animals or movement
- In low light conditions, use your high beams to look for any reflection from wildlife
- Follow the speed limit, so that you have time to react safely and decrease damage to you and your vehicle
- Slow down when conditions are snowy, wet, foggy, or icy since your stopping distance may be longer
- Be extra cautious when you see a yellow sign warning you’re in a ‘High Deer Collision Corridor’
- Avoid all distractions and keep your eyes on the road
If a deer or other wildlife crosses your path:
- Sound your horn
- Do not swerve – this risks a loss of control
As part of its Road Safety Action Plan, the City of Ottawa is making engineering improvements to rural roads identified as high priority. Some of the work includes:
- Enhancing the delineation of curves with reflective signs, pavement markings and other measures
- Enlarging stop signs or installing ‘stop ahead’ warning signs, street lighting or flashing beacons at intersections
- Realigning roads with skewed or angled intersections
- Increasing maintenance of gravel shoulders and paving the shoulders
- On roads being resurfaced, adding centre line rumble strips and safety edges
What you can do
As the driver, you can stay alert, sober and in full control to prevent rural road collisions. And also to prevent another unofficial roadside memorial.