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Tips for Driving in Canada
One of the most appealing adventures in Canada is to drive from one region to region, stopping along the way to witness the natural beauty of the landscape. Driving in Canada is the easiest and most scenic way to experience the landscape but there are differences in the driving laws that tourists should be aware.
Here are some tips you should know before going on a Canadian road trip:
- Car rental companies have a minimum age requirement for drivers. Drivers younger than 25 years are usually not permitted to drive rental vehicles unless travelling on company business (corporate account & ID is necessary). Check the age requirements when making car reservations.
- Wearing seatbelts is mandatory in most of the country except in some rural municipalities. Child safety seats are also mandatory for small children. Travellers with young children should ask for these from the car rental companies.
- Radar detectors are illegal in most provinces except Alberta. Even having one in your vehicle can lead to a fine.
- Most provinces are making it illegal to use handheld cell phones while driving. Hands-free & headsets are the way to go.
- In all parts of the country except for Quebec, cars can turn right on a red light unless otherwise posted. Wait any longer than a few seconds and you’ll get a friendly reminder from those behind you.
- In some parts of the country, U-turns are common and are second-nature, especially in Manitoba. In other provinces, such as Alberta, turning around in intersections is illegal and hefty fines will quickly dissuade unfamiliar people.
- In most of Canada, a flashing green light is an advanced green, where people can turn left unencumbered. However, in BC, it means that the light is pedestrian controlled and will turn amber & red shortly after the pedestrian activates it.
- In most provinces, vehicles are required to move over to the left-most lane OR slow to below 60 km/hr in the adjacent lane when passing emergency vehicles, including tow trucks. Failing to comply leads to VERY large fines.
- Canadian streets are wide and open but finding parking in urban centers can be complicated. Parking is controlled by local municipalities and rules and prices vary by jurisdiction. In some locals, it’s illegal to have the cars tire on the asphalt; in others, it can cost up to $40 a day to park!
- It is illegal in all of Canada to operate a vehicle while impaired. Even if passed out, don’t sit it in the driver’s seat as this is considered as intent to drive drunk and the penalties are just as bad.
- Driving a rental car across the US-Canadian border is usually not a problem as long as you’ve made arrangements with the car rental company first. US & Canadian border officials will look on the rental agreement for cross-border permission before allowing entry.
Winter driving in Canada can be a bit tricky.
Driving in Canada isn’t hard for international tourists. Knowing the rules of the road before heading on a Canadian road trip will make travel smoother and more enjoyable.
Check out other Canadian travel tips.
Get more insider tips on Canadian Adventures at Scenic Travel Canada.