5 trouble spots on Ottawa-area highways

CBC News obtained data on 282 fatal collisions from 2001 to 2010 on highways coming in and out of the National Capital Region. Here are some trends we noticed.

CBC News mapped 282 fatal collisions from 2001-2010

By Paul Jay, CBC News

The above map details all 282 fatal collisions from select highways — or segments of highways — in and out of the Ottawa-Gatineau region. Click on any of the dots to learn more about the collision.

To view the data behind the map, you can also visit the Google Fusion Table here. To view the fusion table as a map, select the 'Map of fatal collisions' tab. To filter the data to look at specifics such as day of week, road conditions, or impaired driving, click the filter tab on the left.

Over the years, many highways extending through the Ottawa-Gatineau region have developed a fearsome reputation. Highway 17 is often referred to as a 'killer' or 'death' highway by residents west of Ottawa, while Highway 148 in the Outaouais has a similar legacy. Highway 105 in Quebec, before the extension of Highway 5, carried a similar reputation and to some extent still does.

But to understand the problems commuters and travellers face, CBC Ottawa obtained data for the most recent 10-year period available (from 2001 to 2010) for fatal collisions. The information was obtained from Ontario's Ministry of Transportation, Ottawa police (for R.R. 174), Transport Quebec and the City of Gatineau (for Hwy 148 collisions within city limits). The information for both Transport Quebec and the City of Gatineau was acquired after CBC and Radio-Canada filed access to information requests.

The map is limited to the following highways, or segments of highways, coming in and out of the National Capital Region:

  • Highway 417.
  • Highway 416.
  • Highway 17 west from Arnprior to Mattawa, Ont.
  • Highway 7 from Ottawa south to Tweed, Ont.
  • R.R. 174.
  • Highway 5.
  • Highway 105 north to Maniwaki, Que.
  • Highway 148 east to Grenville, Que.
  • The western portion of Highway 50 before it was linked to the eastern portion.​

After looking at the data, here are five areas of interest where collisions were either more frequent or clustered together: 

Lucienne Webb, 60, of Pembroke, Ont., died in 2011 after her car collided with a snowplow on Highway 17. (Waubgeshig Rice/CBC)

Highway 17 west of Arnprior

The area: There were 38 fatal collisions in the 100 km stretch of Highway 17 from Arnprior to Petawawa in the 10 years from 2001 to 2010. But what distinguishes that stretch of highway is, more often than not, the collisions are particularly bad. Fifty people died and 61 were injured in the 38 collisions, meaning an average of close to three people were killed or injured.

Highway fatalities need to know

Likelihood that a fatal crash on Ontario highways involved a large vehicle: 1 in 3

Likelihood that a fatal crash in either province involved poor weather/road conditions: 1 in 4

Likelihood that a fatal crash in Ontario involved drinking or impaired driving: 1 in 5

Likelihood that a fatal crash happened between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.: 1 in 4

A noticeable factor: large trucks like tractor trailers are more likely to be involved in a fatal collision on the 17 than any of the other Ontario highways we looked at.

What has been done: Construction on the next phase of Highway 17 twinning — from Division Street to Scheel Drive, is expected to begin in the spring of 2014. An environmental assessment for the next two phases — from Scheel Drive to Bruce Street in Renfrew — is now complete, but timing of construction is dependant on property acquisitions and future funding. A route that bypasses Cobden and extends to Pembroke is also in the planning stage, but again, no timeline has been established. In the interim, a number of local measures — such as stop lights, clearer signage for merge or through lanes — have been enacted in municipalities in the region.

Highway 148 east of Thurso

The area: In the 18 km stretch from Thurso to Papineauville, there were 16 fatal collisions from 2001 to 2010 — collisions that left 19 dead — including two cyclists and one pedestrian — and 23 injured. Wet, snowy or icy roads were a factor in five of the collisions.

What has been done: On Nov. 26, 2012, the gap between the western portion of Highway 50 from Gatineau and the eastern portion beginning in Mirabel, was closed, allowing drivers another highway as an alternative to driving on Highway 148.

Highway 105 near Carman Road

The area: A one-kilometre stretch of Highway 105 had four fatal collisions in the three-year stretch from 2005 to 2008. Looking at the geography of the area, it's not hard to imagine why: the highway travels up and down a major hill, with a residential road at the top of the hill. The speed of the highway was 90 km per hour, but work on the extension of Highway 5 led to a lowered the speed limit to 70 km per hour in recent years.

What has been done: Work to extend Highway 5 — another twinned highway — to Wakefield, Que. is expected to be completed by 2014, effectively turning Highway 105 into a secondary highway for more local traffic, and bypassing this particular section of the road.

Help make our map better

Co-ordinates in the map were plotted from Quebec data using GPS information provided. For Ontario data, the province provided co-ordinates based on its Linear Highway Referencing System, which were the basis of CBC Ottawa's GPS co-ordinate estimates. If you know more information on the exact location of a point in the map, email us at and tell us what you know.

The two provinces also used slightly different terminology to characterize both environment and road conditions and types of collisions. This map reflects our best effort to streamline that information.

Information on whether impaired driving or large vehicles were factors made available from the province of Ontario and may be added later once it becomes available from the Quebec government. Note that if impaired driving was a factor, the map and data does not distinguish which driver or drivers was impaired.

Highway 417 through Kanata

The area: There were seven fatal collisions on the Queensway from just west of Terry Fox Drive to just east of March Road. Driver impairment was a factor in five of the seven collisions.

What has been done: Highway 417 is being widened from four lanes to eight lanes between March Road in Kanata to Palladium Drive, and from four lanes to six lanes from Carp Road to Highway 7. This work is expected to be completed by 2014.

Highway 148 from Luskville to Quyon

The area: There were six fatal crashes from 2001 to 2010 in a 10 km stretch from Luskville to the River bridge in Quyon, and another three in 2011 that killed seven people. Notable among these has a four-vehicle collision in December 2011 that killed a father and his four-year-old son, as well as the driver of the other vehicle, who police said had crossed the centre line at a curve in the road and crashed head-on with the other vehicle. It was also in 2011 near Luskville that two people were killed when a car struck a bear on a rural Quebec highway and sent the animal crashing into a second vehicle.

What is being done: There are no major projects underway to expand or extend the 148 west of Gatineau.