If you’re an immigrant or a tourist to Canada you should know the rules of the country lest you break them by mistake. Even if you’re a Canadian citizen there may be certain rules that you are unaware of. We know that Canadians take their road safety very seriously, but we still think this will help you.
Every province has different driving rules as well as driving license rules. These rules are not made by the federal government, but by the provincial government. Never fear every road is well marked and if you pay attention you can’t go wrong.
Driving License in Canada
Are you new to Canada? The federal government allows a period of 60 days in which you can drive in Canada on your country’s driving license. However, after this period is over you must have acquired a driving license issued by your province’s government. The rules of every state are different and you must find out the rules in your state before you proceed with the application. Each state has different agreements with different countries, so you must thoroughly go through the driving rules of your province which are easily available on the Canadian website.
In addition to a driving license, you must get auto insurance. If you are a tourist in Canada then your auto insurance from the US is accepted. The government advises you to get an international driving license if you are new to Canada before you can apply for the Canadian one. US driving licenses are accepted.
Basics of Driving in Canada
Canadians drive on the right side and their vehicles have the wheel on the right side. It is very important to note that they follow the metric system and their signboards have metric values too. City driving limits are generally set at 50km/h which means 31 m/h. Their two-lane highways have a speed limit of 80 km/h or 50 m/h. You can go faster on the major highways at 100 km/h which is 62m/s
The major language of Canada in English but the Eastern states speak French. As you go East you’ll notice that the signboards which are primarily in English, also have French on them. The state of Quebec has some cities that have signboards only in French.
Everyone knows that roads become very treacherous in the winter in Canada. The citizens take their road safety very seriously since they have mostly winter throughout the year. Canadians have to always wear seatbelts, in the front seats and in the back, as an unbreakable rule. Toddlers below 40 lb must have car seats in which they must be securely seated. Provinces like Newfoundland, Labrador, Manitoba, Ontario and British Columbia have banned smoking in cars that have minors in them.
The rules for distracted drivers differ in different states. Drivers must always use their phones hands-free. David Preszler from Preszler Law of Nova Scotia (http://www.preszlerlaw-ns.com/) tells us that a person is guilty of careless driving if they drive a vehicle on the highway without due care and attention or reasonable consideration for other highway users. There are some provinces that have the concept of HOV (High Occupancy Vehicles) in urban areas which are marked with diamonds. These are for vehicles that have at least 2 people.
Driving in Winter
Winter is very treacherous for Canadian drivers. The roads get ice on them which can even make cars with very careful drivers, slip. Any place North of Toronto has black ice, heavy snow, and whiteout conditions that get the best of even the best drivers. If you’re new to Canada make sure to check the weather conditions before you plan to go on the road. If you do go out be thoroughly prepared with food, flashlight, light bedding, warm clothing and water in case you get snowed in and have to wait it out before you get free again. Keep a phone which is charged and power banks to charge on the go. Your phone must have emergency numbers on speed dial. If you’re in the northern areas of Toronto, it is wise to equip your vehicle with snow tires.
Drinking and driving
Canadian laws are very strict when it comes to drinking and driving. You could get your license revoked if you’re found inebriated while driving. If you’re driving under influence (DUI) you’re not only compromising your safety but also others’. There are plenty of taxi services available in Canada. Get one if you’re the slightest bit drunk. A DUI charge can get you deported and denied entry into the country even many years after the offense. Better safe than sorry.
When you’re in another country do as the Romans do and keep out of trouble.