When you cross provincial borders you’re dealing with a new set of rules, so it’s good to review some of the lesser-known laws
Canada really is a melting pot of cultures, except when it comes to driving. Because road rules are governed by the provinces and territories, we enjoy 13 sets of distinct standards. While many of them are similar across the country, some are quite obscure — and some will trigger a ticket if you didn’t know any better. Here are 10 that might very well leave you scratching your head while also adding points to your licence, should you be unfortunate enough to get caught and convicted.
- In Ontario, if you’re driving in the country and decide to race that big black Arabian in the field beside you, or you’re tempted to outrun that deer, moose or other animal prancing in the ditch, you could be fined $85 under section 174 of the Highway Traffic Act. The same fine applies if you deliberately “frighten” an animal. See? Squirrels have rights, too.
- Other $85 fines include: allowing fuzzy dice, dream-catchers or other objects to obscure the view out the front windshield; producing excessive smoke, fumes or noise; having more than four lighted headlamps; failing to lower high beams; not displaying a “right hand drive vehicle” sign for imported cars; failing to leave one metre while passing a bicycle — or unnecessarily slow driving.
- If you’re looking for some fun (and a potentially viral YouTube video) pulling your little brother or cousin on his skateboard, rollerblades, toboggan, skis or bicycle with your vehicle, you’re inviting a similar $85 fine for such horrendous behaviour. The Act also makes it, ironically, a no-no for “failing to share the road” or “reversing on a highway.”
- In some provinces, you can receive a ticket for texting in your car on private property, for example in the drive-thru of Tim Hortons. In Ontario and Quebec, distracting driving laws don’t apply to private property, but many other provinces don’t distinguish between the two, so beware.
- In Quebec, anyone who cuts through a St. Hubert parking lot or other private property to avoid a stoplight or stop sign can trigger a $100 fine, plus fees. Better to just stop for the chicken.
- In P.E.I., an obscure rule says drivers who pull out to overtake another vehicle must honk before passing. While rarely enforced or practiced, it’s not such a bad theory to make your presence known, although it could be easily misconstrued and lead to road rage.
- In B.C., if you’re not using the left lane to pass, not allowing traffic to merge or not preparing for a turn — otherwise hogging the left lane for no reason — you could be hit with a $167 fine and three points. The rules (no doubt upsetting many a Corolla driver) apply to highways where the speed limit is more than 80 km/h.
- If too many people are stuffed into your VW Beetle (fraternities take note), or three large people are occupying the front seat of your pickup, they could be “crowding the driver,” which is grounds for a ticket in Ontario. Aimed more at passenger vans, in which drivers might pack 13 into a 10-passenger van (which could also invite lack of seatbelt tickets), the penalty is three demerits under the province’s Highway Traffic Act.
- Three demerits can also be levied for driving or operating a vehicle on a “closed road,” or crossing a divided road “where no proper crossing is provided” (those spots where police in ghost cars like to set up speed traps).
- In Quebec, leaving a child under the age of seven in a vehicle, even if it’s to run in and grab some smokes or a double-double while the child is asleep in the back seat, is a violation of the province’s Highway Safety Code, which specifically bans such reckless parenting.