Few things feel more empowering than revving the engine of your car and hitting the open road. Having a vehicle gives you the freedom to do what you want and go practically anywhere that you please! That being said, you have to follow the rules of the road if you want to keep this privilege.
Whether you’re working towards earning your driver’s licence or simply need a refresher, you should take the time to familiarize yourself with the driving rules Canada has in place for motorists.
Failing to follow these rules can lead to a wide array of consequences; some being minor, like a verbal warning or ticket, while others are more severe, like a licence suspension.
Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about the driving rules Canada has in place.
Six of the most important rules of driving in Canada
Here are six of the most important rules that Canadian motorists need to be aware of:
Driving rule #1 — Earn your driver’s licence
In order to drive in Canada, you need to have earned your driver’s licence.
The process for becoming a fully-licenced driver depends on the province that you live in. For instance, the province of Ontario has a graduated licence system, which means that drivers have to earn separate licences over a four year period.
Operating a vehicle without a driver’s licece is a serious issue that comes with its fair share of consequences. For example, if you’re caught driving a vehicle without a valid driver’s licence, you can receive a fine ranging from $200 to $1,000.
On a similar note, your licence may get suspended if you have your G1 or G2 and you break the graduated licence system requirements.
Driving rule #2 — Always follow the set speed limits
Following the set speed limit is one of the most basic driving rules in Canada, yet it’s one of the most commonly broken rules.
While driving on Canadian roadways, you’ll pass a number of speed limit signs with numbers clearly printed on them. The number on the speed limit sign indicates how fast you can go in that specific area.
If you can’t spot a speed limit sign, a rule of thumb is that suburban areas have a speed limit of 40 km per hour and rural areas have a speed limit of 80 km per hour. However, the speed limit differs from road to road, so keep an eye out for road signs throughout your journey.
If you’re caught exceeding the speed limit on a Canadian roadway, you’ll most likely be given a ticket and demerit points. For instance, in Ontario, if you’re caught going 10 km per hour over the speed limit, you can receive a $10 fine. On the other hand, if you’re caught going 49 km per hour over the speed limit, you can receive a $359 fine and four demerit points.
This is why it's important to pay attention to the posted speed limits and do your best to stay within them while driving in Canada.
Driving rule #3 — Pedestrians have the right of way at crosswalks
One of the most overlooked driving rules in Canada is giving pedestrians the right of way while at a crosswalk.
While driving in Canada, you must wait at the stop sign, intersection, traffic light, etc. for pedestrians to safely cross the street. Drivers need to do this to ensure that they don’t unintentionally harm the people crossing the road.
Additionally, it’s important to wait until the pedestrian has completely crossed the street before proceeding. Not waiting long enough for pedestrians to pass puts both you and the pedestrians in unnecessary danger.
Driving rule #4 — Don’t drive with handheld devices
In Canada, you are not allowed to use a handheld device (like a smartphone, tablet, etc.) while operating a vehicle.
Driving with a handheld device is one of the most common forms of distracted driving, which leads to countless car accidents, injuries and deaths in Canada each year.
Most Canadian provinces and territories have serious consequences for motorists that are charged with distracted driving. For example, in Alberta, drivers that are caught operating a vehicle while distracted receive a fine of $287 and three demerit points.
Driving rule #5 — Always stop behind a parked school bus
If you’ve ever driven behind a school bus before, then you’ve likely noticed the swinging stop sign on the left-hand side. School buses feature these signs to indicate that young children are either entering or exiting the bus.
While the stop sign is present and the school bus is parked, you must wait behind the vehicle until the stop sign has completely retracted.
Driving rule #6 — Car insurance is mandatory
Like most countries, the Canadian government requires drivers to have sufficient auto insurance coverage in order to legally operate a vehicle.
Driving without valid insurance in Canada is a serious offence that can lead to severe consequences. Although the exact consequences vary from province to province, drivers who are caught operating a vehicle without insurance generally face the following repercussions:
- Temporary licence suspension
- Financially responsible for damages and injuries that you cause
- Vehicle impoundment
- Will be difficult to obtain a traditional auto insurance policy in the future
With this in mind, it’s clear that drivers should never break these driving laws in Canada.
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