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Canadian Traffic Laws You Haven’t Heard Of

If you’re planning to travel in Canada this year, instead of heading overseas or down south, there are some interesting laws that are technically still on the books in different provinces that you should know about before you hit the road.

Take the time to familiarize yourself not only with any inter-provincial pandemic related travel restrictions, but also the provincial traffic rules.

Ignorance of the law stemming from being from a different province won’t get you out of a ticket!

In La Belle Province

It used to be that you couldn’t turn right at a red light, and if you’ve driven in Quebec in the past, you might have got that rule stuck in your head.

Good news! It’s not true anymore. Except in one place—because it wouldn’t be the province of Quebec if it didn’t have exceptions.

No turning right on red on the island of Montreal! To be fair, there are a few other places, as marked by a traffic sign, but provided you’re not headed to Montreal, you should be fine!

On another note for Quebec, I can always tell when I’ve passed from Ontario into Quebec, without even seeing the signage, because there is a decided change in the driving patterns.

A seasoned Quebec driver will think nothing of flashing their lights and beeping at you if you’re hogging the passing lane, instead of passing and going back to the right. And don’t even think of tapping the breaks in response because braking suddenly without cause can cost 2 demerit points, and worse, cause a terrible accident.

Finally, if you’re caught in traffic and don’t feel like waiting at a red light, don’t use a private parking lot to get around it and head out on to another road! That little detour could cost you $100.

If You Find Yourself In British Columbia

Unlike Quebec drivers, BC has made it a law that you can’t hog the leftmost lane.

Section 151.1(3) of the Motor Vehicle Act says: “A driver of a vehicle in the leftmost lane must exit the lane on the approach of another vehicle in that lane, if it is safe to do so.” With certain exceptions, of course, but failing to vacate could land you with a fine of $167 dollars and the loss of 3 demerit points.

Don’t coast towards the coast! It might be tempting as you come out of the Rockies, to flip your car into neutral or release the clutch, all in an attempt to save a little gas but it’s not worth the ticket you’ll get if you get caught! It’s against the Motor Vehicle Act in BC: Section 197 says “When travelling downgrade a driver must not coast with the gears of the vehicle in neutral or the clutch disengaged.”


Also slightly unusual and less well known: Section 199 says you can’t drive over a fire hose, whether on a private drive or public highway. So if you come across a fire truck or an active fire situation, take care.

At Home In Ontario

I’ve mentioned this one before, but it’s so stellar, I had to remind you!

In Ontario, according to Section 77 (1) of the Highway Traffic Act: “Every person travelling on a highway with a sleigh or sled drawn by a horse or other animal shall have at least two bells attached to the harness or to the sleigh or sled in such a manner as to give ample warning sound.” As much as I’d love to see this put to the test in the courts, I don’t recommend trying to navigate the 401 in a sleigh, with or without bells!

Also, did you know that Ontario is the only province where solid and double solid lines on the roads are ‘just a suggestion’?

While they are there to indicate that it might not be safe to pass or go over the line, there is in fact nothing preventing you from doing so. Of course, if you cause an accident as a result, you can be charged for making an unsafe pass / lane change, so it’s probably worth taking them at face value. And in other provinces, you do in fact need to adhere to not passing on solids / double solids.

And if you’re planning on riding a bike instead of driving a car in the city of Sudbury? Don’t attach a siren to it and fly down the street as this is against their municipal laws. Don’t ask me why, because I honestly couldn’t tell you. Apparently bells and horns are acceptable however.

On The Red Roads Of PEI

In Prince Edward Island, there is an old law—section 154 of their traffic statutes—that states that you are supposed to honk before passing another vehicle. Thankfully, no one holds to that anymore. Can you imagine rush hour in Charlottetown? What if this were a law in a place like Toronto, where rush hour on the Gardiner is all the time?

And honking isn’t just for passing in PEI! You also have to honk when you reverse out of a parking space, letting all and sundry around you know that you’re heading backwards. Just what you want your neighbour doing at 7am when they leave for work…

Got Tint?

If you have tinted driver or passenger side windows, you could be in for a spot of trouble going through BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia or PEI.

Tint on those windows is illegal for the very simple reason that these areas are meant to shatter on impact into tiny pieces. A tint over top could create large jagged pieces that could do a lot more damage.

Should This Be A Law?

Oddly, there is one thing that I think shouldn’t be allowed but is. You are perfectly free to drive barefoot or in socks. There’s nothing that says that you have to be sporting actual footwear to drive a vehicle anywhere in this country. Technically, you don’t have to wear anything at all! That said, if you’ve got passengers, please, please consider donning some apparel and saving everyone else in the car.

Whatever your plans are this next year, a staycation close to home or visiting family a little further away, stay safe on the road and the rules of the place you’ll be visiting.


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