Winter driving is a fact of life for Canadians and, if you have a cottage that’s open year-round, you may do more of your fair share of slogging through blizzards and freezing rain.
There are things you can do to improve your winter driving: make sure your full headlights are on, go easy on the brakes (yes, really), look where you want the car to go, and always carry an emergency kit (we’ve got some suggestions for a DIY version here). But really, sometimes you’re just at the mercy of the weather and other drivers.
That being said, some roads see more accidents than others. Here’s our list of some of Canada’s worst roads for winter driving.
Highway 401 between Woodstock and Windsor, Ontario
This is a long stretch of mostly flat road that still sees more than its share of major traffic accidents. Last winter, a 10-kilometre stretch of the highway just outside of Woodstock was closed following a pileup that involved more than 50 cars. The stretch between London and Windsor was actually nicknamed “Carnage Alley” in the 1990s.
Highway 401 east of Oshawa, Ontario
Yeah, the 401 doesn’t fare well in this list. Canada’s busiest highway was the site of an 80-car pileup in January 2013, caused by poor visibility during a snow squall. According to the OPP, the stretch between Whites Road and Courtice Road has the highest number of traffic accidents in the province.
Autoroute 40, Quebec
One of the main routes between Quebec City and Montreal, this highway was the site of a traffic-snarling 27-vehicle pileup in December of 2012. This road isn’t just dangerous in the winter, though—just this summer, it was completely closed following a crash that involved more than a couple of cars.
Highway 63, Alberta
This 443-kilometre stretch of road is the only all-weather highway out of Fort McMurray, and is an important (and busy) link between Edmonton and Alberta’s oilsands. Although its in the process of being twinned—which will turn the undivided highway into a divided one—the highway is notorious for serious accidents due to the blowing snow and low temperatures in the area.
Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road, Northwest Territories and Nunavut
One of the world’s most nerve-wracking routes has, surprisingly, few accidents. Between 400 and 600 kilometres long, 85 percent of this ice road lies over frozen lakes—and even though ice-thickness-detecting sonar is used, the risk of breaking through the ice is a constant one. To keep truckers safe, the road is generally operational in February and March, while the ice is thickest, and drivers must pass a safety test before driving on it.
Where was the worst winter drive you ever experienced?