If you’re taking a trip to Canada and planning on driving yourself when you get there, it’s important to know some of the basic rules of the road.
First of all, you need a valid driver’s license, as well as proof that you have auto insurance before you drive a car in Canada. A US driver’s license and insurance are valid for up to six months, after which you may need to change to a Canadian driver’s license.
If you’re from another country, you need an International Driving Permit (IDP) if you’re going to stay in Canada for longer than six months, and you’ll need to purchase insurance to rent a vehicle.
The different provinces can have individual driving laws, but here are the most important ones:
- Speed limits are in metric units, e.g. 50 kilometers per hour in cities.
- Everyone has to wear seatbelts, and children younger than nine years or shorter than 145 cm must be in car seats.
- Road signs may be in English and/or French.
- You need to use your cell phone “hands-free” while driving.
- Drunk driving is a serious offense. You could be arrested, your driver’s license suspended, and your vehicle impounded. It’s a criminal offense to drive if your blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or more.
- Some provinces don’t allow smoking in cars carrying minors.
- If you experience an emergency, and in the case of a breakdown, you can contact the Canadian Automobile Association.
It’s especially challenging driving in Canada during winter as roads can be covered in heavy snow and ice.
If you’ve been in an accident in Ontario or a nearby location, you’ll need to find a local lawyer if you wish to make a claim.
You should check the weather conditions and decide if you’ll manage driving before setting out. Carry a charged cell phone with emergency numbers at all times, and when you’re going to face challenging driving conditions, you may need to take snow and tire chains for maximum traction.
- Check the level of windshield washer fluid because running out will reduce your visibility, affecting your and others’ safety. Preferably keep extra windshield washer fluid in your car’s trunk.
- Keep your tank full.
- When visibility is bad, turn on your lights. Also, leave enough distance between you and the vehicle in front, as it takes longer to stop on wet roads.
- Drive as if the road is covered with ice. The road surface might be covered with a layer of almost invisible ice.
- Don’t slam down the brakes as you could lose control of your vehicle.
- Look out for hazards in the distance, as you’ll then have more time to react. Slow down to avoid skidding, but if your vehicle should start sliding, take your foot off the accelerator to regain control and turn your wheel in the direction you want to go.
- If you’re stuck, stay inside the vehicle and use your hazards to attract attention. Use the door farthest from the traffic if you have to get out of the car.
If you follow the road rules and the tips for driving in winter, you should have a pleasant and problem-free driving experience in Canada. You might even consider hiring a car and taking a road trip as it is one of the best ways of seeing this vast country.
Be sure to follow the road rules at all times to avoid getting in trouble and have your vehicle insured.