Simply put, rural roads are more dangerous than other roads. In 2019 there were 428 traffic fatalities on municipal roads, of which 205 occurred in rural municipalities. The unfortunate reality is that with only 13.3% of the provincial population, rural Ontario accounted for 48% of traffic fatalities on municipal roads.
Many rural, remote, and northern municipalities are responsible for maintaining extensive road networks on a smaller population/tax base. As a result, these roads tend to be older, in poorer condition, and incorporate only basic road safety infrastructure.
With a provincial partnership, problematic sections of Ontario’s rural, northern, and remote roads can be made less dangerous. Interventions could include replacing legacy assets (i.e., wooden posts with guardrails), installing absent road fixtures (i.e., guiderail, signs, lighting, road paint), or upgrading to more modern assets with innovative safety functions (i.e., guardrails, guiderails, crash cushions). In other jurisdictions governments are doing just this.
Austroads, the collective of Australian and New Zealand transport agencies, performs road safety audits (RSA) across Australasia. An RSA is a formal examination of a road, in which an independent, qualified team reports on the project’s crash potential and actual safety performance. The primary objective is to identify high risk areas of the road network and provide necessary treatments that prevent road trauma from occurring.
Austroads is known as the global leader in RSAs and have created a guide which is used by transport agencies across Australasia. As no similar guide exists in Canada or Ontario, there is an opportunity to create a Made-in-Ontario version. Good Roads is partnering with Austroads to adapt their world leading RSA guide to the Ontario environment with the aim of training road safety auditors so that this knowledge is available locally.
At such a point, rural and northern municipalities can tap into this expertise to identify solutions to problematic stretches of their roads.