top of page

Dealing with ruts on Trans Canada in NL

Grooves are clearly visible on the Trans Canada Highway near the weigh scales outside of Port aux Basques. It is common for this section of highway to retain water in the ruts during heavier rainfall. – © René J. Roy / Wreckhouse Press

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

WEST COAST — In many areas across the province, there is a noticeable issue with the roadways aside from the more obvious things like potholes and that is ruts or grooves that wear in the asphalt over time, or may also be caused before deformation or as a result of heavy loads. With transport trucks traveling daily between Port aux Basques and St. John’s, often carrying heavy loads to or from the ferry, it’s not hard to understand why ruts would develop quickly. There are numerous ways in which these ruts in the roads can reduce driving safety. They can pool water during wet weather, increasing the chance of hydroplaning, which is the reduced contact between tires and pavement, and can also soften the subgrade of the road, potentially causing even more significant problems later on. There are things a driver can do to stay safe. Tips for travelling the provincial and national highways were shared in booklet released by Transport Canada earlier this year. The vision of Road Safety Strategy 2025 is Towards Zero-The safest roads in the world, and its slogan is Rethink Road Safety. “Road Safety Strategy 2025 is Canada’s fourth national road safety program. The first three contributed to the reduction of the number of deaths and serious injuries resulting from road collisions in Canada by 44 per cent and 56 per cent respectively between 1996 and 2015.” According to their research, approximately 1.3 million people worldwide die in road collisions every year and an estimated 50 million more are injured. “The United Nations (UN) General Assembly passed a resolution in September 2020 to establish the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021–2030. The goal is to reduce the forecast level of road traffic deaths and injuries around the world which are expected to increase if nothing is done. The World Health Organization (WHO) is leading this effort because the UN sees the global epidemic in road trauma as a public health issue:

  1. Crash victims require expensive medical treatment and rehabilitation

  2. The UN estimates that 1 in 10 of the world’s hospital beds is occupied by a crash victim

  3. Treating crash victims can delay scheduled surgeries and add to longer waiting lists “The 2020 road safety annual report released by the International Traffic Safety Data and Analysis Group (IRTAD) of the International Transport Forum (ITF) indicated that the number of road deaths decreased in most 34 IRTAD member countries with validated data and that the overall number of road deaths decreased by 6.9 per cent in 2018 compared to 2010.” In 2017, 97 per cent of front seat occupants were wearing seat belts but, in 2020, 35 per cent of fatally injured occupants were unbelted. Statistics for 2020 indicate that 25 per cent of road deaths involved speeding, 10 per cent involved a failure to yield, and 7 per cent involved failing to obey a traffic control device as contributing factors.

  4. Don’t speed

  5. Reduce your speed at night and in bad weather

  6. Slow down in school and work zones

  7. On the highway, stay at least four car lengths behind the vehicle in front of you

  8. Never run amber/red lights

  9. Give pedestrians the right of way at intersections and pedestrian crossings

  10. Don’t overtake aggressively or weave through traffic

  11. Keep a safe distance from cyclists and pedestrians, ideally 1.5 metres Ensuring you keep a safe speed on the road is especially important during wet or icy conditions, and when that is coupled with road rutting, drivers need to be extra cautious. According to, slower speeds are exceedingly important when the potential to hydroplane exists. “Vehicles typically hydroplane at approximately 35 miles per hour, so it’s best to limit your speed when driving, especially on wet terrain. Experts recommend driving 5-10 miles below the road’s speed limit to avoid getting into an accident. While it helps to know the speed at which hydroplaning may occur, it is important to know how to avoid it altogether. Here are some tips keep in mind.

  12. Disable cruise control on wet roads

  13. Don’t use worn tires

  14. Drive slowly on wet roads

  15. Inflate your tires

  16. Use wet grip tires If your vehicle hydroplanes, don’t panic. Follow these steps to get out of the situation safely.

  17. Avoid accelerating or hitting the brakes

  18. Steer your tires to match the direction you’re hydroplaning

  19. Ride it out and wait after aligning your tires, in time your vehicle will decelerate

  20. As soon as you’ve regained control of your vehicle, pull over. Give yourself some time to calm down and process what happened so that you can drive more confidently afterward. In response to inquiries about the Trans Canada Highway and other rutted roadways, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure issued the following statement. “Rutting is an ongoing condition on our roads and highways. The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure continues to repair significant rutting, particularly on high-volume, high-speed highways. To get a handle on the degree of rutting, the department owns a Road Analyzer vehicle which drives over and evaluates pavement quality, including taking measurements of ruts. “Department officials annually review the road data results to identify portions of the province’s road network that require repair work. These identified areas are included for funding considerations, along with other infrastructure projects, as part of the overall roads maintenance program for any one year. “When rut repairs are conducted, the department employs a process referred to as “mill and fill” which means the rutted section is milled out to give a uniform and level surface and filled in with fresh asphalt. Removing the rutted asphalt to a level surface permits adequate consolidation of the new asphalt mat to ensure the repair’s longevity. “In 2023, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure has rehabilitated and paved (or is in the process of rehabilitating and paving including rutting repairs) approximately 565 lane kilometers of the provincial roadways network. “It is also important for the motoring public to always adhere to posted speed limits and drive according to conditions, slowing down when roads are wet or slippery.”

1 view0 comments


bottom of page