DRIVING IN CANADA
Canada has an excellent highway system and rules of the road are generally similar to Europe, so with a little concentration it doesn’t take long to get used to the road systems in place and once you’re out on the open roads you are sure to find driving in Canada a real pleasure. There are some rules of the road that are helpful for you to know when planning your touring holiday in Canada, so below are a few pointers.
• Canadians drive on the right hand side of the road
• Seat belts are compulsory
• Right turns on red lights are permitted if your way is clear
• You should not drink and drive
• Take extra care on country roads and be aware of possible encounters with wild animals
Right turns on red lights are generally allowed, but at some junctions in towns and cities, you can only turn right on a green light. In some parts of Quebec, right turns on red lights are not allowed.
If you see a school bus (normally yellow) with its red lights flashing, this means it has stopped to allow children to get on or off the bus and traffic travelling in both directions must stop and pull over tothe side. This rule is strictly enforced and you will be heavily fined if you do not obey this.
Some roads in Canada are toll roads and these work on a vehicle number plate recognition basis. If you use one of these roads the bill will be sent to the rental company who will in turn charge these to your credit card, unless you inform them that at the end of your rental you will settle the bill with them directly.
Always obey speed limits. Typical limits (always pay attention to local signage) are:
• Mall entrances 15-20kmh
• School and playground zones 30-50kmh
• Built-up areas 40-50kmh
• Major arterial urban roads 50-80kmh
• Major arterial roads, arterial highways 70-90kmh
• Expressways / freeways 80-110kmh
A full UK driving licence is accepted. For hire vehicles, the named driver must usually be at least 25 years old and all nominated drivers at least 21 years old, and all must hold valid driving licences. Any driving licence endorsement, other than for speeding or parking offences, must be declared to hire companies.
On individual, tailor-made holidays, basic public liability coverage is included in your vehicle rental fee with a maximum excess of several thousand dollars (the exact amount depending on the rental company) for damage to your vehicle or the property of a third party. You can reduce the excess considerably (usually to a few hundred dollars, again depending on the rental company) by adding a Collision Deductible Reducer (CDR).
On Escorted Tours, your vehicle rental includes vehicle insurance with CDR, unless otherwise stated. An imprint of a major credit card is required while the vehicle is rented and some rental companies may deduct a deposit (typically CA$ 750-1500) from your card, refundable on return of your clean and undamaged vehicle.
Fuel is known as gasoline or gas. It is always unleaded and generally costs far less than fuel in the UK, depending on area and fuel grade. The price can vary depending on whether you use a ‘full-service’ or ‘self-service’ garage. Visit www.gasbuddy.com
for price information. Credit cards are widely accepted. You will be expected to return any hire vehicle with a full tank of petrol, unless otherwise stated by the hire company.
Although regulations pertaining to the driver and the vehicle are essentially a provincial responsibility, the Canadian Federal Government has legislated laws against drinking and driving under the Criminal Code. The maximum amount of alcohol allowed in the blood of a driver is 80mg per 100 ml of blood or 0.08%. However, all the Provincial authorities apart from Quebec have set a lower limit (usually 0.05%).
It is illegal to carry an open alcohol container in a moving vehicle or in a public place, but alcohol may be open in a parked vehicle if kept away from the driving area and the driver.
The legal drinking age is 18 in Alberta, Manitoba and Québec, and 19 elsewhere in Canada.