How to report a road hazard

5 minute read Published on Oct 5, 2023 by BrokerLink Communications

How to report a road hazard

Each day, millions of people take to the roads, expecting a safe and smooth journey. However, road hazards can appear unexpectedly, turning a routine trip into a potentially dangerous situation. These hazards range from fallen debris and potholes to unexpected roadwork or malfunctioning traffic signals.

Knowing how to promptly and effectively report these hazards is not just a civic duty; it’s a critical step in ensuring the safety of all road users. In this blog, we’ll guide you through common road hazards and how to report them, from identifying the right authorities to understanding the importance of timely reporting.

What are common road hazards?

Potholes, fallen debris, and slippery surfaces are common road hazards that drivers and pedestrians may encounter every day. Here’s a list of typical road hazards that drivers and pedestrians may encounter:

  • Potholes or sinkholes
  • Fallen debris or obstacles
  • Sudden flooding or road washouts
  • Sudden ice patches or heavy snowfall
  • Stagnant water
  • Unexpected wildlife
  • Poor road design
  • Damaged or faded road markings
  • Malfunctioning traffic signals
  • Broken or missing guardrails
  • Uneven road surfaces
  • Spilled hazardous materials
  • Dangerous road work conditions
  • Vehicle accidents

How to report hazardous road conditions

Reporting road hazards in Canada is crucial for maintaining road safety and can be done through various channels. When reporting, be as specific as possible about the location and nature of the hazard. Include details like the nearest cross street, landmarks, the size and type of hazard, and any immediate risks it poses. This information helps authorities prioritize and respond effectively.

Here are different ways you can report road hazards depending on your location and the type of hazard:

Contact your local municipality

Contact the local municipal office or public works department for hazards within city or town limits. Many municipalities have hotlines or online reporting systems to report potholes, stagnant water, and road-related issues.

Use provincial hotlines

For hazards on provincial highways such as the 400-series highways in Ontario, use the Ministry of Transportation Ontario’s (MTO) dedicated hotline. The contact number for MTO is 1-800-268-4686, or you can call 511 for traveller’s information.

Contact your local police

If the hazard poses an immediate danger to public safety, such as debris causing a significant obstruction, a malfunctioning traffic signal at a busy intersection, or a motor vehicle accident blocking traffic, contact local law enforcement or (in Ontario) the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) by calling their non-emergency number or 911 in case of an emergency.

Use mobile apps

Some municipalities in Ontario have mobile apps or an online form where you can report road hazards. These tools often allow you to pinpoint the exact location of the hazard and provide a description. A great example in Ontario is the 311 app. Cities like Toronto, Brampton, and Windsor, among others, have a 311 app where residents can submit a service request to repair potholes, broken sidewalks, and more.

How to report a drunk or impaired driver

You may not immediately think of an impaired driver as a road hazard but remember that their ability to operate a vehicle safely is significantly compromised. Impairment typically reduces reaction times, impairs judgment, and affects coordination, making it difficult for the driver to control the vehicle, obey traffic laws, and respond appropriately to road conditions and other users. As such, quick and responsible reporting can help prevent car accidents and save lives. Here’s how to do it:

Call emergency services

In Canada, dial 911 to report an impaired driver. This is considered an emergency because the driver poses an immediate threat to public safety. When you call, give the dispatcher key details about the vehicle, such as make, model, colour, licence plate number, and any distinctive features e.g., damage, and stickers.

Also, note the direction in which the vehicle is travelling (eastbound, westbound, etc) and any specific driving behaviours that suggest impairment, such as swerving, erratic braking, or inconsistent speeds. Be clear that you suspect the driver is impaired. Provide your location and the last known direction of the suspected impaired driver.

The dispatcher may ask you for additional information or to stay on the line. Follow their instructions, but prioritize your own safety at all times. Maintain a safe distance from the suspected impaired driver and do not attempt to follow or chase the vehicle.

Remember, if you’re driving, pull over to a safe location before making a call or have your passenger make the call. It’s important not to use your phone while driving unless it’s hands-free. Check out some of our other safe driving tips.

Use an anonymous tip line

If you prefer to report anonymously, you can use tip lines like Crime Stoppers, but for an immediate threat like a drunk driver, calling 911 is the best course of action.

Why it’s important and necessary to report road hazards

Reporting road hazards plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safety and well-being of all who use the roadways. We can significantly reduce the likelihood of accidents by alerting authorities to dangers like potholes, fallen debris, or slippery surfaces. This proactive approach is not just about avoiding vehicle damage; it’s fundamentally about protecting lives. Often unaware of these hazards, drivers are at risk of sudden accidents, which timely reporting can help prevent.

The impact of reporting road hazards also aids in the maintenance and longevity of road infrastructure. When local governments are informed about various road issues, they can effectively allocate resources, prioritizing repairs and maintenance that keep roads in good condition. This management is not only about fixing current problems but also about preventing future ones, ensuring that roads remain safe and navigable for everyone.

Road hazards and car insurance

Did you know that road hazards can significantly impact car insurance? When a vehicle is damaged due to road hazards like potholes, fallen debris, or icy conditions, drivers may file a claim with their insurance company for repairs. Not only do frequent claims lead to higher insurance premiums over time, as insurers might view the driver as higher risk, but insurance companies often adjust rates based on the overall risk profile of a region. As such, areas with frequent road hazards and higher claims histories might see higher average monthly insurance rates overall.

Plus, let’s not forget the extent to which road hazards are covered depends on the type of car insurance policy. For instance, optional comprehensive coverage covers damage from non-collision events, such as hitting a large pothole or damage from falling objects.

On the other hand, standard liability insurance will not cover such incidents unless you cause injury or damage to a third party due to a road hazard. An Ontario car insurance broker can help you tailor your Toronto car insurance policy to meet your needs.


Understanding how to report road hazards and recognizing their impact on car insurance are key aspects of being a responsible driver. By staying vigilant and promptly reporting any road hazards, we contribute to safer roads and help mitigate potential accidents.

Remember to review your insurance policy regularly, consider seeking out comprehensive coverage for better protection against road hazards, and take the time to compare insurance quotes periodically. This practice ensures you’re getting the best deal and keeps you updated on what your policy covers, helping you stay prepared for any situation on the road.

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