Driving in Canada

I am going to try really hard not to turn this post into a Rant *fingers crossed*


A huge difference between Canada and the UK is, of course, that we drive on the ‘wrong side of the road’ over here.  Pre-emigration I had never really driven when we travelled in countries where you drive on the right, we had travelled around a lot but it was always better if I navigated while Husband drove (trust me… we tried it once while off-roading in Wales in the middle of a military firing range, it wasn’t pretty… we lost the track, we argued, we never tried that again)


Anyway, going through all the emigration preparation and I was delighted to find that we didn’t need to pass a road test when changing our driving licenses, phew, one less thing to worry about! Your license has to be exchanged within 30 days so we wandered down to our local Service Ontario office to find out what we need to do, they check our eyesight, take a photo, take our UK licenses and VOILA! we walk out of the offices with a full Ontario driving license, just like that.  It’s called a reciprocal license agreement; basically if you live in a country where one of these agreements exists you can exchange your license regardless of your driving history.  I walked out with a full license having about 4 minutes of Canadian driving experience in a left hand drive car (on a deserted industrial estate in the middle of the night no less) MENTAL! Having been here a while I now know why driving standards in Canada are pitifully low. That probably accounts for extortionate car insurance too.  I am ranting aren’t I? Ooops

Here’s my solution and as an immigrant I can say this without being accused of racism. Don’t hand out driving licenses to immigrants willy nilly! Surely that is obvious… Isn’t it???

I would not have minded having to pay for an hour with a driving instructor before they issued my license if it meant the first time I came to an all way stop sign (totally non-existent in the UK) I might know what to do (OK common sense would tell me to stop but when to start again is another matter) I bought a drivers education handbook to read up on road signs etc but I wonder how many new immigrants do this?  So if your listening this Mr. McGuinty / Mr. Harper stop whining about road safety and be a bit more careful about who you give licenses to. As the Meerkats say “Simples!”

Don’t even get me started on roundabouts or the appalling amount of pedestrians killed on the roads in a country where you can turn right on a RED light AND pedestrians get a ‘walk’ sign at the same time. Hmmmmm I wonder why that happens????


Ok, rant over!

5 thoughts on “Driving in Canada

  1. Mum

    Wel done Lou, I’ve been driving a lot longer than you and I had trouble working out the all way stop or whatever its called and I was a passenger!

  2. rachel

    Having recently moved to the states I understand exactly where you are coming from. We did have to sit a test, both theory and practical. The theory was useful to work out what I was meant to do on a roundabout and the rules fir passing school buses . The practical on the other hand was a joke. I could do my paralell park in my huge car and was flustered after being late, getting lost on the way to the test centre. I would never have passed in the Uk but they gave me a licence.
    I am now on the road have had one minor bump and a cyclist who drove intothe back of my car when I was stopped at traffic lights.
    The joy of driving un a foreign country !

  3. Lou Post author

    yes it is a joy isn’t it! There are two roundabouts in a five hundred mile radius of here and they are both at the end of our road! The expat Brits (of which there are a quite a lot) treat them as UK roundabouts, the Canadians treat them like a four way stop and everyone else just ignores them, they get driven straight over the top when there’s snow on the ground and people frequently stop in the middle of them, Total Chaos! I swear I take my life in my hands every time I go out in the car.

  4. Emily

    HAHAHAHAHA this made me giggle! We’ve had some dodgy experiences on the road here too. Luckily for us, the road rules (aside from right on red) are exactly the same as in Aus. Unluckily is that they don’t seem to be obeyed in the same way 🙂

  5. Hannah

    It was SO scary when I first drove over here.

    We lived in Alberta and my husband had a truck! I had had a driving licence for 12 months and I had learnt to drive in a Fiat 500. Needless to say I was absolutely petrified. I had an international driving permit, so I was good for a year.

    Luckily my husband’s work had meant he’d spent a lot of time training Canadians to drive, so I had mini lessons but if I hadn’t have been so lucky I would have been really screwed. I hated that they didn’t have a Highway Code book or something.

    Talk about stress!

    Well done with the red light thing. When I was last in England I found it very difficult to remember how to do roundabouts and to resist turning left on a red!


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