Canada is a country of staggering natural beauty, cultural contrasts and welcoming citizens. With just over 24,500 kms of highways and the famed Trans Canada Highway stretching across six times zones, you can discover a world of adventure during a road trip across Canada. Roads in Canada are well maintained and well-marked, although in Quebec, the road signs tend to be written in French, which can make driving in Montreal and Quebec City a challenge.
The freedom of the open road in Canada starts with a couple of legal and safety pointers.
Assurance Through Insurance – Check your Paperwork
All drivers in Canada must carry certain documents with them at all times. This is especially important if you are a visitor to the country. All vehicles driven in Canada must have auto insurance, and you will not be able to rent a vehicle without extensive coverage. With vehicle insurance minimums of $200,000 being the norm in most provinces of Canada, foreign drivers may have to arrange for additional coverage when renting. Drivers of American cars will have to have a Canadian Non-Resident Insurance Certificate as well as their standard insurance documents.
Have the following documents available at all times: Your passport with visas, international driving permit, which you must apply for in your country of origin through the CAA, the car registration papers, rental agreement and auto insurance card.
Rules of the Road – Safety First
The laws that govern driving in Canada are similar to many other commonwealth countries. The biggest difference is that Canadians drive on the right-hand side of the road. When approaching a red light with the intention of making a right turn, come to a complete stop, check for traffic and then proceed. This can be confusing for foreign drivers, who may only be alerted to this rule by a honk from an impatient driver.
All drivers must wear seat belts, and all children must be restrained at all times. Talking on a hand-held mobile phone or ‘texting’ is against the law in Canada, and while hands-free kits are available, the use of them is discouraged.
Pedestrians have the right of way in Canada, no matter how busy the road is or whether or not it is marked for pedestrians to cross. If you’re travelling cross country your biggest hazard will not be people, it will be wildlife, keep alert and take regular breaks during your journey.
Speed Limits and Law Enforcement
If you travel over the speed limit you will be caught, prosecuted and fined. The speed limit in urban areas is typically 50 kilometres per hour, while on the highways the limit is 100 km per hour. If you’re converting from the imperial system, 50 kph is 30 mph and 100 kph coverts to 60 mph. One mile is equal to 1.6 kilometres.
Renting a Car for a Driving Holiday in Canada
Booking a rental car is best done through a reputable travel agent or online car rental website. You will have to be over the age of 21 to rent a car in Canada, but note that many car rental companies will only rent you a vehicle if you are over age 25. To be able to rent a car you must own a credit card from an international bank. If you are travelling to Canada during the summer, you’ll need to book your vehicle a couple of months in advance.
This guide was researched and produced on behalf of Hotel Club where you can find great hotels for every step of your journey.