I'll post this over in the Wiki as well, but it will probably get seen here sooner for those that are about to leave. I know it should have been done earlier but here it is anyway. First some stuff on general driving rule and customs, then winter driving later on. Most of my driving has been in BC, there could be slight differences in other provinces. DRIVING IN CANADA Many things are the same, but some things are different. It's not as hard as you'd think. I know this is obvious, but we'll start at the very beginning: VEHICLE CONTROLS 1. Canadians drive on the right hand side of the road. 2. The gas, brake and clutch pedals are laid out exactly the same as in cars made for drive-on-the-left countries. 3. Transmission shift levers are mounted toward the centre of the vehicle; ie, the opposite side of what you're used to. Hard-core right handers will enjoy shifting with their so-called 'good hand'. The truly gifted (lefties) will adapt - as they always have. 4. Control levers for wipers, blinkers and so on will mostly be reversed from Australian setup. Yes, you'll find yourself turning the wipers on when you actually intended to signal a left turn. Tip: most GM models have a single control stalk with blinkers and wipers on it. This might be a (minor) factor when deciding what car to rent. NOMENCLATURE Americans and Canadians have a few different words related to vehicles. Here are a few, along with their translation. Again, you probably know most of them due to American movies and TV, but what the hey. You could make up flash cards and practice them at home to assist your efforts to sound like a local. Hood: bonnet Trunk: boot Fender: mudguard Windshield: windscreen Gas: petrol Gas pedal: accelerator Propane: LPG Stick: manual gearbox Standard: manual gearbox 4-ways: hazard lights Glove compartment: glovebox Windshield antifreeze: exactly what it sounds like. Essential for winter driving because slop and slime accumulates on windshields all the time. B-train: B-double Tractor-trailer: semi-trailer "Yield" sign: "Give Way" sign Turning circle: roundabout Defroster: demister ROAD SIGNAGE Canada is a metric country, or at least the government thinks so. In everyday usage, their weights and measures are a confusing mish-mash of both systems, but on the roads it's fairly straightforward. Speed limits and distances are shown in kilometres. Speed limits can be confusing. Generally it's 50 km/h in built-up areas, with lower 30 km/h limits for school zones (8 am to 5 pm). Outside that, you'll find almost anything is posted. Speeds could be as high as 110 km/h on some freeways, and 80, 90 or 100 km/h on two-lane highways, depending on the whim of the Ministry of Highways. Keep your eyes open, because those speed limits can change quite often, and the signs don't have the eye-catching bright red circle around them that Australian drivers are used to. In the mountainous areas of BC and Alberta, many major highways have digital signboards giving info about conditions ahead. They are of course very brief, but take heed anyway. Stop signs: Canadian roads use Stop signs much more than Give Way signs. There is such a thing as a Yield which looks the same as an Aussie Give Way and you'll occasionally see them where the traffic powers that be have decided it's OK for people to slow rather than come to a complete stop. In practice, most drivers here slow down, check for traffic and go through slowly if there's nothing coming. Of course, a complete stop is needed if there's a cop watching! It should be noted that stop signs don't always have a painted line indicating where you should stop. 4-way stop: this is a 4-way intersection with stop signs at all four sides. The procedure is that you must give way to all vehicles that were present before you came to a complete stop. In other words, watch to see when it's your turn to go. There's also a thing called a 3-way stop, same rules as a 4-way. If there are pedestrians prsent, they have supreme right of way. Uncontrolled intersections: occasionally in low-traffic areas there may be no traffic lights or stop signs. In this case, the vehicle on the left yields right of way to the vehicle on the right. Roundabouts: pretty rare in BC and it shows. The locals have grudgingly got used to them, but out-of-towners are confused as hell. Essentially they operate the same here as they do in Australia, but of course they rotate in the opposite driection. Anyhow, you give way to the traffic already on the roundabout and indicate (right) when you are going to leave. TRAFFIC LIGHTS Mostly the same as in Australia with a couple of key differences. You may make a right turn at any red light after coming to a complete halt, unless there is signage specifically prohibiting that (very rare). You can also make a left onto a one-way street against a red - after stopping. Flashing green light - indicates a pedestrian-controlled traffic light on a through road. Sometimes there are side streets nearby and it is important to understand that these streets do not automatically have right of way when the through road lights turn red - the pedestrians have absolute right of way. "Prepare to Stop" flashing lights. Normally used approaching traffic lights in speeds zones higher than 50 km/h. They will flash orange a bit before the green light is about to change orange. Flashing red light: hanging suspended over the centre of an intersection, indicates a 4-way stop or a stop sign coming up. Flashing orange light: hanging suspended over the centre of an intersection, indicates the side road/s have a stop sign facing them, proceed with caution. Usually employed where the side road is almost as busy as the through road - ditto for the flashing red mentioned above. SPEED CONTROL AND POLICING BC no longer has speed control cameras. Traffic light cameras are widespread but only 25% of the mounts actually have cameras in them - they are rotated around a fair bit. Radar is employed in both mobile and stationary modes. The RCMP (Mounties) and local police forces both carry out traffic control duties. Marked and unmarked cars are used. In general, no cop will ticket you at up to 10 km/h over the limit - not that I've seen anyway. I wouldn't try it on for size in a school zone though. Police generally stick to fast, open roads where speeding is more likely - slimmer pickings for them on the twisty roads where people actually need to slow down. OK, I'll leave this for now and post a winter-specific section in a bit.