Driving In Canada

If you’re planning to make a road trip to Canada , or if you’re planning a move or a long-term stay, it would be wise to do some research as to what to expect. Driving in Canada isn’t terribly different than driving in the United States, but there are enough differences to give pause.


If you’re an American driving in Canada, you need a valid US rivers licence. You’ll also need proof of auto insurance. Automobile insurance is compulsory across Canada, but the specifics vary from province to province. A driver in BC, specifically, would need to comply with the basics of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). Drivers who get into an accident would need to contact a specific icbc lawyer Vancouver. If you’re just visiting on a tourist visa, proof of American auto insurance will be good enough, but if you move to Canada or have a car registered in Canada, it will have to have auto insurance.

In Canada, you drive on the right side of the road (the same as in the USA), and everyone is required to wear a seatbelt. If you’ve ever in your life had a DUI, you might be barred from entry into the country. And you definitely don’t want to get a DUI while you’re in Canada!

If you see solid lines painted on the highway, don’t cross them–unless you’re in Ontario. Solid lines indicate that it’s not safe (or legal) to pass, whereas dotted lines indicate that passing is okay (but check the surrounding traffic first). In Ontario, though, it is legal to pass over solid lines in order to pass cars in front of you. And if you’re in Prince Edward Island, it’s illegal to pass someone without honking your horn.

Canadians are known for running red lights, so watch out!


Canada as a whole endures some harsh winters. If you’re not used to driving in snow and ice, you may want to only make a driving visit in the spring or summer. If you are driving in the colder months, though, make sure to have proper tires, and even chains on them if necessary. Check road conditions before you go out, and watch out for black ice. Make sure you know the tricks for driving in winter, such as not slamming on the breaks if you start to slide on ice. Keep a winter emergency kit with you that includes a blanket, flashlight, and ice scrapers. You can buy one or make your own.


Get ready for different signage! For starters, speed signs will be posted in kilometers per hour, rather than miles per hour. Fortunately, most American speedometers include a small km/h meter below the mph meter. Otherwise, the traffic signs you’ll see in Canada more or less are the same as in the US. Yield signs, Do Not Enter signs, No Parking, etc., all share the same symbols as their US counterparts. Stop signs share the United States’ red octagonal shape, but you may see signs posted in both English and French, especially if you’re in Quebec. You may also see signs in English and one of the indigenous languages. (In Quebec, some other signs are written only in French, so be sure to brush up on what those mean before you go.)

Watch out for wildlife

You may find that you have a long stretch of empty road that has a max of 80 km/h (approximately 50 mph). This is because large animals like moose and elk are liable to meander into the road. Running into one of these guys at a super-high speed would be bad for the both of you. Some areas, such as Banff National Park, have overpasses for the wildlife to use instead of walking on the highway, and while this has noticeably reduced the amounts of collisions, it isn’t a cure-all (after all, even humans jaywalk sometimes). Wildlife collisions are particularly problematic in British Columbia and Alberta.

Traffic lights

If you’ve got some common sense, you can figure out the basic rules of Canadian traffic lights, and they do, for the most part, operate according to the same rules as traffic lights in the USA. However, there are a few subtleties it’s worth knowing about ahead of time. Green lights mean go, of course, but they also mean you can make a left turn. You can make right-hand turns on red lights in every province but Montreal.

One thing you’ll see on Canadian traffic lights that you don’t see in the US is the transit priority signal. This is a round signal on top of the regular lights, and when it shows a vertical white bar, all other traffic stops while transit vehicles can go through or make turns. If you see one of these but forget what it means, don’t worry; you’ll also probably face a red light.