Every now and then, I love to take my car out for a ride around Ottawa’s lovely roads. If you ask me, the driving conditions are simply perfect for a cruise around the city.
Good roads, great traffic management, and well-behaved drivers define the capital’s driving experience.
But just how safe are Ottawa’s roads? I’ll be tackling that in this article so you know what to expect as you take your private vehicle around the capital.
How safe is it to drive in Ottawa?
In a survey done by Mister Auto in 2019, Ottawa was considered to be the 3rd best place in the world to drive in. The city’s good traffic congestion, driver behavior, infrastructure, and driving cost make its roads very safe for us.
Historically, Ottawa has a reputation for being one of the best cities for driving, ranking 3rd globally. Its daily congestion is ranked 36th compared to 100 other cities in the world.
Based on these statistics, we can say that driving in Ottawa doesn’t require you to be on high alert for any potential threats on the road. Just follow basic rules and etiquette, and you’re pretty much set for a safe journey.
Rush Hour in Ottwa
Ottawa’s rush hour typically occurs from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM during the morning and 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM during the evening.
These times of day often bring higher volumes of traffic congestion. This is a result of people commuting to and from work, with the larger number of vehicles affecting travel times on major roadways and highways in and around the city.
It’s best to be more cautious during these periods if you are driving, as the higher volume of vehicles can make it more challenging to navigate around Ottawa’s roads. If you want to avoid the rush hour, you can choose to either travel early or wait it out.
What is the speed limit in Ottawa?
The speed limits in Ottawa can vary depending on the type of road you are driving on. In general, the speed limits are as follows:
- Residential areas: 40 km/h (unless otherwise posted)
- Urban arterial roads: 50-60 km/h
- Major roads and highways: 70-100 km/h
We follow these limits to ensure the safety of everyone on the road, from drivers, and cyclists, to pedestrians. If you manage to break the limit, you will likely get a speeding ticket with a corresponding fine based on how fast you were going.
Important Ottawa Traffic Rules
The capital city has some rules in place to ensure that no accidents occur on the road and that traffic flows smoothly. Here are some important rules that you should be aware of when driving in Ottawa.
Always yield the right-of-way to pedestrians at intersections and crosswalks. When approaching a yield sign, you must give priority to oncoming traffic or pedestrians already in the intersection.
Come to a complete stop at all stop signs, and yield to any vehicles or pedestrians with the right-of-way before proceeding.
When driving in school zones, reduce your speed to the posted limit, which is usually 40 km/h. Be extra cautious of children crossing the road and be patient with them.
It is mandatory for the driver and all passengers to wear seat belts at all times. Children under the age of 16 must be properly secured in an appropriate child restraint system.
When making a left turn at an intersection, yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians. Use your turn signals to indicate your intentions to other drivers.
Red Lights and Stop Lines
Stop behind the solid white stop line when approaching a red traffic light. Only proceed when the light turns green and you’ve made sure that it is completely safe to do so.
Highway and Road Speed Limits
Make sure that you observe the different speed limits that have been implemented in the city.
In residential areas, the default speed limit is 40 km/h unless otherwise indicated. On major roads, the speed limit is typically 50 km/h, but it can vary.
Don’t forget that pedestrians aren’t the only ones that you share the road with. Ottawa is a cyclist-friendly city, and you are bound to encounter plenty of people on bikes.
Give cyclists ample space when passing them on the road. Do not park in designated bicycle lanes or obstruct their path.
It is illegal to use handheld communication or electronic devices while driving unless you have a hands-free system. This includes making calls, texting, or using apps.
It is strictly prohibited to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for fully licensed drivers is 0.08.
These are just some of the important traffic rules in Ottawa. It’s crucial always to stay alert, obey traffic signs and signals, and practice defensive driving techniques to ensure your safety and the safety of others on the road.
Speed and Red Light Camera Locations in Ottawa
When driving through Ottawa, it’s important that you know which streets have speed cameras so that you can be mindful of your pace. Here’s a full list of roads, highways, and intersections that have these devices installed so you are prepared.
- Albert Street & Booth Street
- Albert Street & Kent Street
- Albion Road & Rideau Road
- Arlington Avenue & Kent Street
- Aviation Parkway & Montreal Road
- Aviation Parkway & Ogilvie Road
- Bank Street & Heron Road
- Bank Street & Hunt Club Road
- Bank Street & Riverside Drive (North)
- Bank Street & Riverside Drive (South)
- Baseline Road & Merivale Road
- Bay Street & Slater Street
- Besserer Street & King Edward Avenue
- Blair Road & Highway 174 Westbound/Gloucester Center
- Booth Street & Wellington Street
- Brittany Drive & Montreal Road
- Bronson Avenue & Carling Avenue
- Bronson Avenue & Commissioner Street/Slater Street
- Bronson Avenue & Powell Avenue
- Carling Avenue & Carlingwood Shopping Centre
- Carling Avenue & Holly Acres Road
- Carling Avenue & Iroquois Road
- Carling Avenue & Island Park Drive
- Carling Avenue & Merivale Road
- Carling Avenue & Richmond Road
- Carling Avenue & Woodroffe Avenue / Fairlawn Avenue
- Carp Road & March Road
- Carp Road & Richardson Side Road
- Catherine Street & Kent Street (East Side)
- Catherine Street & Kent Street (South Side)
- Catherine Street & O’Connor Street/417 Westbound On Ramp
- Cedarview Road & Fallowfield Road
- Champain Street & Jeanne d’Arc Blvd N
- Charlemagne Boulevard/Tompkins Avenue & Tenth Line Road
- Coldrey Avenue & Kirkwood Avenue
- Conroy Road & Johnston Road
- Conroy Road & Lorry Greenberg Drive
- Coventry/Ogilvie Road & St. Laurent Boulevard
- Cyrville Road & Innes Road
- Eagleson Road & Cope Drive
- Eagleson Road & Hazeldean Road
- Elgin Street & Slater Street
- Elgin Street/Pretoria Bridge & Queen Elizabeth Drive
- Fisher Avenue & Meadowlands Drive
- Gladstone Avenue & Rochester Street
- Greenbank Road & Berrigan Drive/Wessex Road
- Haig Drive & Smyth Road
- Hawthorne Road & Leitrim Road
- Heron Road & Jefferson Street
- Heron Road & Riverside Drive
- Heron Road 155m west of Bank Street
- Hogs Back Road & Meadowlands Drive
- Holland Avenue & Island Park Drive/NCC Driveway
- Hunt Club Road & Cahill Drive
- Hunt Club Road & McCarthy Road
- Innes Road & Orléans Boulevard
- Jeanne d’Arc Blvd N & Fortune Drive / Vineyard Drive
- King Edward Avenue & St. Andrew Street
- King Edward Avenue & St. Patrick Street
- Lyon Street & Slater Street
- March Road/Eaglson Road & Campeau Drive/417 Westbound Off Ramp
- Merivale Road & Meadowlands Drive
- Murray Street & Sussex Avenue
- Navan Road & Renaud Road
- Old Tenth Line Road & St. Joseph Boulevard
- Place D’Orléans Drive/Duford Drive & St. Joseph Boulevard
- Smyth Road & Saunderson Drive
- St. Joseph Boulevard & Tenth Line Road
- St. Laurent Boulevard & Belfast Road
- St. Laurent Boulevard & Russell Road
- Strandherd Drive & Jockvale Road
- Tenth Line Road & Vanguard Dr
- Terry Fox Drive 135m south of Hazeldean
- Vanier Parkway & Presland Road
- Walkley Road & Don Reid Drive/Ryder Street
- Walkley Road & Glenhaven Private
- Walkley Road & Russell Road/Hawthorn Road
Tips for Driving on Ottawa’s Roads during the Winter
When the snow arrives, driving through Ottawa’s roads can be a lot more challenging than usual. The roads are slippery, and the visibility can sometimes be affected.
Here are a few tips to stay safe when driving through the winter season.
Invest in winter tires.
Winter tires are essential for driving safely in snow and ice. They have deeper treads that grip the road better, and they are made of a softer rubber that stays flexible in cold weather.
Slow down and leave extra space.
When driving in winter conditions, it is important to slow down and leave extra space between you and the car in front of you. This will give you more time to react if something happens.
Use your headlights and windshield wipers.
Even if it is not snowing, it is a good idea to use your headlights and windshield wipers in winter. This will help you see better and be seen by other drivers.
Be prepared for black ice.
Black ice is a thin layer of ice that can form on the road when the temperature is below freezing. What makes this particular formation so dangerous is that it’s incredibly hard to see, especially during the evening.
To spot black ice, I advise you to pay attention to noticeably glossy patches of ice, or a duller portion of the road. Once you spot it, slow down and carefully maneuver around it.
Avoid sudden braking or acceleration.
Sudden braking or acceleration can cause your car to skid. If you need to stop, do so slowly and smoothly.
Be patient and courteous to other drivers.
Winter driving can be stressful, so it is important to be patient and courteous to other drivers. This will help to keep everyone safe on the road.
Check the weather forecast before you go.
This will help you to decide if it is safe to drive, and if so, what kind of conditions you can expect.
Pack an emergency kit in your car.
You never know what might happen on your travel. It’s best to be prepared in the event something unexpected happens during your drive by having an emergency kit.
Its contents should include things like a flashlight, flares, a first-aid kit, and snacks and water.
Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.
It’s always important to let people know if you are going to a specific place, especially in not-so-ideal weather conditions like heavy snowfall. This way, if you do get stranded, someone will know where to look for you.