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Frequently Asked Questions - Roads

Who do I contact to get a pothole repaired?

If the pothole is on a Regional Road contact the Region of Durham Works Department depot nearest you. Click on the following link to see a list of Regional Roads. If the pothole is on a non-Regional Road contact your local municipality (ie. Township of Scugog, City of Pickering, etc.)

My car was damaged going through a construction site, who do I contact?

Email or call the Clerks Department at clerks@durham.ca or 905-668-7711.

What is the regulatory speed limit?

Unless otherwise posted, the regulatory speed limit for all urban and rural roads is 50 km/h.

How are speed limits determined?

In general, it is very difficult to control speed as most drivers base their speed on the character of the road, and not the limit. In determining the proper speed limit, a number of factors are considered, including the width of the road, traffic volumes, pedestrian activity, existing operating speeds, collision history, intersection spacing and the number of entranceways.

Speeds are established in the Highway Traffic Act and by local and Regional by-laws. An effective speed limit is reflective of both the existing operating speed and of driver expectations.

Why can’t the speed limit be lowered?

Lower posted speed limits do not decrease vehicle speed, reduce collisions or improve safety. If posted unrealistically low; it creates a greater speed variance which is a factor in collisions as it tends to lead to more passing and unsafe manoeuvres. (ie: some drivers adhere to the speed limit while others drive a speed they are comfortable with)

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Why not install a stop sign or a signal to reduce speeds?

Each year, municipalities receive many requests to have stop signs and/or traffic control signals installed to reduce speeds. However, the purpose of both stops signs and traffic control signals is to assign the right-of-way at intersections, not to control speed. Installing inappropriate traffic control devices often results in drivers disobeying the control or speeding to make up time.

Why do green times on the side streets sometimes seem so short?

The majority of traffic control signals operate in a semi-actuated mode where green times are assigned to the side street based on the volume of traffic. A minimum of eight (8) seconds of green time is typically provided for the first vehicle. The controller will extend the side street green by three (3) second increments based on vehicles arriving at the intersection to a maximum amount of time before returning back to the main street. The traffic controller will terminate the side street green earlier if there are no further vehicles detected. This operation allows for the most efficient distribution of signal timing.

Why do I have to wait so long for a signal to change?

At actuated traffic control signals, the green phase for the side street is “triggered” with the detection of a vehicle or a pedestrian push button. The length of delay before the signal changes to green depends on when the vehicle was detected on the side street. The side street movement can only be serviced after the coordination of the main street traffic stream. The wait time on the side street can vary from a few seconds to upwards of approximately a minute.

Why does the pedestrian “Don’t Walk” signal stay on when the vehicle signal is green?

In order for the pedestrian “Walk” signal to be displayed, the pushbutton must be activated. This guarantees enough crossing time for the pedestrian. Crossing against a “Don’t Walk” signal is not permitted.

Why doesn’t the “Walk” signal indication stay on until I’m completely across the street?

The pedestrian “Walk” signal display indicates when you have the right-of-way to safely cross the street. The “Flashing Don’t Walk” is a warning to pedestrians who have not yet entered the intersection not to start their crossing. If you are part way across when the “Flashing Don’t Walk” is displayed, pedestrians should complete their crossing. The combined timing of the solid walk signal and the flashing hand signal is programmed to provide enough time to cross safely at an intersection. Pedestrians should start crossing an intersection only at the beginning of a “Walk” signal.

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Why are traffic signals coordinated?

Traffic control signals are timed to minimize delay and maximize overall intersection and signal network efficiency, although it is difficult to coordinate traffic on all streets. Many factors contribute to the disruption of good bi-directional coordination: varying vehicle speeds, the presence of left turning signals, the distance between signalized intersections, side street volumes, pedestrian crossings and congestion. Providing coordination for one direction can at times, result in frequent stops and delays for the other direction.

Why do some signalized intersections have left turn arrows or flashing green advance phases and others do not?

Left turn arrows or flashing green advance phases are displayed to provide motorists with a protected phase to safely complete their turn when the opposing through traffic is heavy. Warrants are used to ensure they are installed at locations where the implementation of the left turn arrow or flashing green does not adversely affect other movements and only when there is sufficient left turn volume to justify their need. The addition of advance phasing increases the delay of other traffic using the intersection including pedestrians. Due to the high cost of providing left turn advance phasing, it is important to ensure that they are installed at locations where they are required.

How are pedestrian crossing times calculated?

The time for pedestrian “Walk” and “Don’t Walk” intervals is based on the distance across the intersection and typical pedestrian walking speeds. At locations where there are a lot of seniors or children, a lower walking speed is used to lengthen the pedestrian “ Walk” interval.

Will a traffic control signal be installed at an intersection immediately after a collision or a fatality?

Traffic control signals don’t always prevent collisions or aid traffic control. At some locations, collisions actually increase when signals are installed. Where traffic control signal are installed without justification, the potential for pedestrian/vehicle conflict may increase, as motorists do not always recognize the right of a pedestrian at a crosswalk. When this happens, traffic control signals become a liability to safety, rather than an asset.

What happens to the traffic control signals if the central control system computer fails?

If the central traffic computer should fail, the traffic control signal will still be operational. At locations where there is left turn phasing, backup signal timings have been installed. The backup signal timings will control the operation of the traffic control signal until the computer failure is corrected.

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How much does a traffic control signal cost?

A typical traffic control signal costs approximately $165,000 (2011 dollars)

There have been many accidents at a particular unsignalized intersection. What does it take to get a signal installed?

The Region and its municipalities receive and investigate numerous inquiries and requests to install traffic control signals. It is a common misconception that a signal will alleviate the difficulties experienced by some motorists or pedestrian at an intersection and few people understand the process in determining their need and the negative impact they can exert on the quality of traffic flow and safety of public roads. For this reason, warrants were established to assist municipalities to ensure that the benefits of signalization outweigh the disadvantages.

The warrants take into consideration the volume of traffic and pedestrian activity, delay to the cross-street, intersection geometry and spacing, vehicle operating speeds and collision experience.

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