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Canada - Driving

In Canada, driving is on the right hand side of the road as it is in the US. There are no regulations about the type of equipment that should be carried in the car but there are recommendations. Equipment that should be considered includes a torch, shovel, extra warm clothing, food and drink for emergencies, blankets, ice scraper and antifreeze and snow chains.

There are a number of regulations which must be adhered to when driving. It is illegal to use a mobile phone while you are driving. It is illegal to use any kind of radar detection equipment. You must be wearing a seat belt at all time and all passengers should wear them if the belts are fitted. If you are driving then you are responsible for ensuring that all passengers in the car are wearing a seat belt. It is not recommended to allow children under the age of 13 to sit in the front of the vehicle and safety seats must be used for any child that weighs below 20kg.

The red stop signs in Canada mean that you must come to a complete stop. At a junction where there is more than one stop sign in place right of way is given to the driver who arrived at the junction first. In some provinces undertaking on the highways is permitted. If you are driving very slowly for any reason you should have the hazard warning lights on. In some provinces you are required to keep the headlights on at all times and some cars have daytime lights for this purpose. Right of way at a roundabout is to traffic approaching from the left.

When you are approaching a crossing then the pedestrian has the right of way and if you should meet with an emergency vehicle you need to pull over to let it pass. Other hazards you need to be careful of include wildlife such as moose. If they are a hazard in the area that you are in there is usually a series of road signs to indicate this.

There are some toll roads in Canada but not a great many. If you are driving from Canada to the US the bridges between the two are often toll bridges. On some tolls a camera takes a photograph of the car and the bill is sent to the registered owner.

When you are driving you will find that the road signs on main roads are in both English and French. In Quebec the signs are mainly in French. Speed limit signs are in kilometres. The speed limit on a highway and expressway is 100 km/h. On a two lane highway it is also 100 km/h. Main roads in an urban area have a speed limit of 60 km/h. Roads in a residential area have a speed limit of 50 km/h and roads near schools have a limit of 30 km/h.

Rush hour varies depending upon the area that you are in but generally in the cities it is from 7.30 am to 9.30 am and begins again at 3.30 pm and runs until 7 pm. However, in the larger cities, you will find that there is heavy traffic at all times.

If you are involved in an accident in Canada then you are legally obliged to stop. You must report the accident to the police and if you do not you can face heavy fines and points on your licence. You must exchange details with the other driver and report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible.

All provinces have low limits when it comes to drinking and driving. The national levels are 0.08% but some provinces have set the levels lower than this. If you are convicted of drink driving you will have your licence stopped for a year. If you have a second conviction the ban is for three years and if you are convicted a third time the ban is for life.

Road quality in Canada is very good as there is a good infrastructure, particularly in urban areas. Some roads in remote areas may be in a much poorer state. The standard of driving is also fairly good and accident levels are comparable with those in the UK and the US.

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