Traffic Safety

The Region of Waterloo strives to enhance road safety through engineering, education and collaboration with Waterloo Region Police Services traffic enforcement staff.   The Region has many programs in place to help enhance road safety.

Visit the Safe Roads Website and pledge to do the Extra Sec Check and give everyone a safe journey.

Light Emitting Diode (LED) Street Lights
The Region of Waterloo in partnership with the Cities of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo and the Townships of North Dumfries, Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich are replacing existing High Pressure Sodium (HPS) street lights with  Light Emitting Diode (LED) street lights to reduce the carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels and to reduce costs.  This includes replacing approximately 43,000 lights during 2017.
Frequently asked questions about street lights
Why does the Region light roadways?
  • Roadway lighting is proven to enhance motor vehicle and pedestrian safety
What is light pollution? 
  • Light pollution is wasted light also known as "sky glow"  
  • All light sources such as roadway lighting, motor vehicle headlights, interior lighting and commercial or industrial lighting can contribute to light pollution
What is the Region doing to reduce light pollution?
  • The Region and its partnering local municipalities have acquired LED street lights that are considered "Dark Sky Friendly" by the International Dark Sky Association  
    • The International Dark Sky Association has an interest in reducing light pollution and maintaining the visibility of our night sky
  • The Region is using warmer coloured LED lights to minimize use of blue light which is known to scatter further through the atmosphere compared to other colours
  • LED lights in the City of Kitchener have the ability to be dimmed during off-peak hours.  All other LED lights in the Region will have the ability to be dimmed in the future
  • LED lights were designed to minimize unnecessary over lighting
Are all street lights being converted to LED? 
  • The traditional street lights often called "cobra-head" lights are being converted to LED 
  • Decorative street lights will be converted at a later date
Do LED lights impact public health? 
  • All light sources can impact human health in particular the human circadian rhythm (sleep pattern).  Excessive exposure to blue light may also impact sleep patterns and contribute to sleep related illnesses 
  • The Region has complied with the American Medical Association's recommendations regarding LED lights to address health concerns
What is light trespass? 
  •  Light trespass is unwanted artificial light intruding upon private property
What is the Region doing to reduce light trespass?
  • The Region required street lights designed to prevent over lighting and reduce light trespass
What is glare?
  • Glare is a term often used to describe difficulty seeing in the presence of a bright light source such as the sun or headlights of a motor vehicle
  • Glare can cause discomfort, such that a person desires to look away from the light
  • Glare can also disable one's ability to see
What is the Region doing about LED street light glare concerns?
  • The Region required street lights to meet certain specifications to minimize glare
Can glare associated with LED street lights degrade road safety?
  • The Region is unaware of any evidence in the industry that suggests glare from LED street lights degrade safety

Can LED street lights improve road safety?

  • There is overwhelming evidence supporting the safety benefits of roadway lighting, however no specific evidence suggesting that LED lighting would further enhance safety over traditional street light methods
How long do LED lights last?
  • LED street lights are expected to last 15 years
Why didn't the Region switch to LED earlier?
  • The Region has been monitoring LED street light technology since 2006 and opted to wait for the technology to improve and for the cost to come down
Pedestrian Safety

The Office for Injury Prevention, in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, Police Services, CAA, Ontario's trauma centres and other road safety partners invite you to Be Alert, Be Seen, a Provincial road safety campaign encouraging both drivers and pedestrians to stay focused and remain visible while using the roads.


School zone safety

Starting September 2022, and running as a pilot for the 2022/23 school year, residents will see changes to speed limits in most school zones with a reduction of 10 to 20 kilometers per hour (km/h) in some areas, and set at 40 km/h in others. School zones currently set at 40 km/h will remain at 40 km/h.

These adjusted speed limits will be in effect Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. September through June.  

School zone speeds by location

Safety Countermeasures Program
  • The goal of the Region's Collision Countermeasure Program is to reduce collisions and injuries to motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.
  • A road diet reduces the number of regular travel lanes on a roadway 
  • A typical road diet would see a 4-lane roadway reduced to 3 lanes consisting of one through lane in each direction plus a continuous two-way centre left-turning lane 
  • This is considered when traffic demand does not necessitate 4-lanes of traffic. An example in the Region of Waterloo occurred on Frederick Street between Bruce Street and Edna Street. 
    • Since this project was completed collisions have been reduced by approximately 44%
Traffic signals
  • Rarely are traffic signals installed for the purposes of improving traffic safety
  • Most traffic signals are installed to minimize unnecessary delay
  • An evaluation of intersections showed that collisions increased between 11% and 40% after traffic signals were installedTraffic Signals at an intersection
  • Angle collisions which are far less frequent but tend to be more severe in terms of resulting injury were reduced between approximately 3% and 28%
  • For more information go to the Signs and Signals page
Right-turn Smart Channel
  • Drivers in a traditional channelized right-turn lane are forced to look over their shoulder for approaching vehicles while veering their vehicle to the right, taking their attention away from the road
  • Smart channels help reduce this angle so drivers can focus more of their attention to the road and vehicles in front of them
  • Smart channels have shown an 86% reduction in all rear-end collisions and a 73% reduction in rear-end collisions causing injury Smart Channel
  • They also help to create a better environment for pedestrians as the design helps to reduce vehicle speeds
Pedestrian Countdown Signals
  • Pedestrian countdown signals give a visual indication of how much time is remaining to cross
  • This helps to reduce the number of collisions involving pedestrians by approximately 30% 
  • There has been no significant change in the number of collisions involving vehiclesPedestrian Countdown Signal
  • A review of intersections on Region of Waterloo roads replaced with a roundabout indicates that collisions involving injuries or fatalities have been reduced by approximately 51%
  • Collisions in general increased slightly by approximately 35%
  • Go the the Roundabouts page for more informationRoundabout
Set-back Left-turn Traffic Signal Detectors
  • Detectors are embedded into the road to detect waiting vehicles at signalized intersections
  • Setting them back from the stop bar allows a traffic signal to skip a left-turn advance signal phase when there is little demand or no vehicle present 
  • The traffic signal can reassign more time to the main green signal which will better service theLeft turn detectore majority of motorists waiting to go straight through the intersection 
  • Skipping left-turn phases may seem to contradict the purpose of traffic signals however our studies suggest that traffic signals that serve demand more effectively can result in improved safety 
  • This initiative,  has resulted in reduced collisions involving left-turning motorists by approximately 19%
Advanced Left-turn Signals
  • Despite many beliefs, advanced left-turn signals typically do not make intersections safer 
  • A study of 13 locations over a total of 39 study years (average 3 years per location) determined that there was no resulting safety benefitAdvanced left-turn Signal
Road diets
  • Road diet is a term for a project that reduces the number of regular travel lanes on a roadway
  • A typical road diet would see 4-lanes reduced to 3 lanes Road Diet



Median and Pedestrian Refuge Islands

  • Pedestrians cross roadways between intersections, despite knowingly taking on risk and increasing vulnerability.
  • Median or pedestrian refuge islands can be a place of refuge for pedestrians
  • Refuge IslandCollisions involving pedestrians have been reduced by as much as 80% where installed 

 High-Visibility Ladder Crosswalks

  • Approximately 100 people are hit every year at traffic signals
  • The majority of these collisions occur in crosswalks while the pedestrian has the right-of-way 
  • To help reduce pedestrian collision at traffic signals, traditional crosswalks are being replaced with high-visibility ladder crosswalks
  • Cross WalkWhere installed, collisions have been reduced by approximately 70%.

Right-Turn Overlap Signal

  • A right-turn overlap signal comes on at a signalized intersection during another conflicting movement
  • Enabling motorists intending to turn right to proceed without having to stop for a red light 
  • Analysis of this operation has shown that collisions involving right-turning motorists have been reduced by approximately 25%Right Turn Overlap Signal

Setting Speed Limits

  • Speed limits are set as close as possible to the observed average speed travelled by motorists
  • By doing this the frequency of tailgating and unsafe passing is reduced
  • Collision analyses have determined that collisions have been reduced by 66% where speed limits have been increased from 60 to 70 kilometres per hour to better reflect average observed speed of motorists.  Alternatively, total collisions increased by 63% when decreasing speed limits from 80 to 70 kilometres per hour in cases where speed limits were set lower without consideration of observed average speedSpeed limit sign

Rural All-way Stop Intersections

  • All-way stops are installed at locations either to minimize unnecessary delay or to reduce higher than normal angle or turning related collisions 
  • All-way stop intersections installed for safety reasons have reduced collisions by 72% on average 
  • All-way stops have proved to be a very effective way to improve safety
  • It is important to avoid overuse of all-way stop-controlled intersections to maintain their effectiveness and driver complianceAll Way Stop sign

Offset Crosswalks

  • About 100 pedestrians are struck in crosswalks at traffic signals in the Region every year
  • The most common pedestrian collision happens at signalized intersections from motorists turning left  
  • Left-turning motorists typically scan for a gap in opposing traffic, commit to the turn and turn into the path of a crossing pedestrian stepping off the curb   
  • Offset crosswalks relocate traditional crosswalks a little further back to provide left and right turning motorists additional time and space to observe and react to pedestrians
  • Offset crosswalkThe offset crosswalk also provides motorists an area to stop beyond the pathway of oncoming vehicles should they yield to a pedestrian after committing to a turn 


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