Driving in Canada


Running Up North

Sometimes drivers are required to run into Canada. There are 13 provinces and territories in Canada and, unfortunately, 13 sets of driving rules.

Here are few highlights of some Canadian rules . . .

Speed Limiter Rules

Two Canadian provinces – Ontario and Quebec – have speed limiter rules for heavy trucks. Any U.S. based truck traveling to or through Ontario and/or Quebec must have the governor set to 65 miles per hour or less. Yes, they check it . . .

HOS Reset

In hours of service, Canada allows a 36 hour reset, not the 34 hours required by the USDOT. Drivers in Canada are allowed 13 hours of driving within a 14-hour workday, with 10 hours off. Drivers must again follow DOT rules while traveling south of the border.

Clean Background Checks

A driver with any prior felony criminal convictions (including DUIs) or even an arrest record may be not allowed in Canada. This is a permanent, lifetime bar. There is an administrative process to gain entry, resulting in special travel papers — which must be requested at least 6 months prior to the intended entry date.

Guns, Knives, and Other Weapons

Canada has strict weapon laws. Drivers need declare to Canadian Customs authorities any firearms and weapons in their possession when entering Canada. Weapons include certain kind of knives and pepper spray and mace. Anything not declared is kept by authorities, if discovered. For more information, visit the Canadian Firearms Program.

Tinted Windows

No tinted windows are permitted in five provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. It is illegal to have any tint at all on driver and passenger side windows.

Cell Phones and Texting

Distracted driving laws for electronic devices have been enacted in all Canadian provinces. Every province has a law that says you can’t text unless you’re parked. One driver was even ticketed for texting while in a fast-food line. A wearer of an Apple Watch changing music was ticketed for distracted driving in Quebec.

Using a voice-activated navigational system, as the Siri feature on an iPhone to ask for directions, is permitted in Nova Scotia, since an October 2015 Supreme Court ruling.

Some Special Rules

In Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) drivers need to honk the horn before passing.

In B.C. and the Yukon, a flashing green light doesn’t mean you have the right of way to make a left turn. A flashing green is activated by a pedestrian at a pedestrian crossing when a pedestrian pushes the crossing button, in these two provinces.

In Ontario (and only Ontario) lane markings generally serve an advisory or warning function. Drivers may cross solid lines but can still be charged, if they pass when it’s not safe.

Ontario also has large fines for wheel-offs, up to $50,000 Canadian.

Tip: One major U.S. carrier does a full DOT inspection on its vehicles every time it crosses the border.

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