Behaviours – Courtesy and Sharing the Road

Among Road Users

Failing to follow basic road safety rules directly threatens the safety of other road users. These rules must be followed at all times. Learn to be a good driver, a good pedestrian and a good cyclist!

Useful information

Duty of Care

All road users have a duty, especially toward more vulnerable users, to be careful and considerate when travelling on a public road.

Drivers of road vehicles have a duty to show extra care toward more vulnerable users, such as people with reduced mobility, pedestrians and cyclists.

Vulnerable users, for their part, have a duty to adopt behaviours that enhance their own safety.

Being a good driver

Passing another vehicle

There are several rules to follow:

  • check that markings allow you to pass (broken line on the pavement). Passing a vehicle where there is a solid line is prohibited, except for passing a cyclist, farm machinery, an animal-drawn vehicle (like a horse-drawn carriage) or a vehicle with a slow-moving vehicle warning sign (orange triangle), and only if passing can be done without danger
  • look to see if a vehicle behind you is merging into the left lane
  • make sure the passing lane (left lane) is clear over a sufficient distance
  • signal your intention to change lanes in advance using your turn signal light
  • merge back into the right lane one you have passed the vehicle, always while keeping a safe distance

It is prohibited and dangerous to pass several vehicles by weaving in and out of traffic

Offenders are liable to:

  • a fine of $200 to $300
  • 4 demerit points

When another vehicle passes you

If another vehicle is passing you, or about to pass you, don’t speed up! Doing so is prohibited by the Highway Safety Code and can lead to a fine of $200 to $300 and 2 demerit points. Out of courtesy, you can slow down to make it easier for the other vehicle to pass.

Passing a cyclist

Before passing a cyclist, make sure you have enough space to do so without compromising his or her safety. It is recommended that you merge into the left lane to leave as much space as possible. When passing, the space between your vehicle and the cyclist must be:

  • 1 metre in zones of 50 km/h or less
  • 1.5 metres in zones of more than 50 km/h
Useful information

Can you pass a cyclist by crossing over a solid line on the pavement?

Yes. The Highway Safety Code allows this, as long as the manoeuvre can be carried out safely.

Passing a heavy vehicle

Passing a heavy vehicle requires more time and space than passing a car. The manoeuvre also requires increased vigilance due to the turbulence created by the heavy vehicle.

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Les dépassements sécuritaires et les turbulences (in French only)

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Sharing the road with heavy vehicles

  • Leave more space than usual when you stop behind a heavy vehicle. When the heavy vehicle driver takes his or her foot off the brake in order to engage the clutch, the vehicle may move backward if it is carrying a heavy load.
  • Leave a heavy vehicle with enough space to turn and don’t cut off the driver before he or she has finished making the turn. When turning right, the driver may have to first veer to the left, which may be confusing.
  • Avoid positioning yourself in a heavy vehicle’s blind spots, especially at intersections. If you can’t see the driver’s rearview mirrors, the driver can’t see you either.
  • If you are in front of a heavy vehicle, make sure you leave enough space between you and the heavy vehicle and signal your intentions ahead of time. Heavy vehicles need a lot of space to brake.
  • Don’t rely on your horn to signal your presence to a heavy vehicle driver: the driver won’t hear you.
  • When you pass a heavy vehicle, beware of the air turbulence it can cause. Plan for more time and space than it would take to pass an automobile.

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Le partage de la route avec les véhicules lourds (in French only)

Transcript :

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Les jeunes conducteurs et la sécurité routière (in French only)

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In the presence of a bus

It is recommended that you stop far behind a bus.

On roads with a speed limit of 70 km/h or less, you must yield to buses that have activated their turn signal lights to indicate that they will merge into the lane on which you are driving. If you fail to yield to the bus, you could be fined $100 to $200.

Sharing the road with school buses

The greatest risks to a child’s safety are found outside the school bus and come from either the bus itself or the surrounding traffic.

When a school bus turns on its flashing lights or deploys its stop sign, you must stop at least 5 metres from the bus, whether you are travelling in the same direction or approaching from the opposite direction.

Offenders face:

  • a fine of $200 to $300
  • 9 demerit points

Exception

You are not required to stop when you are approaching a school bus that is in a lane separated from yours by a median.

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La conduite en présence d'autobus et de véhicules d'urgence (in French only)

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Sharing the road with emergency vehicles

You must yield the right of way to any emergency vehicle whose sound-producing device or lights are in operation. It is important to stay calm, locate the emergency vehicle, slow down, pull over as far to the right as possible and, if necessary, stop.

Offenders face:

  • a fine of $200 to $300
  • 4 demerit points

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Que faire en présence d'un véhicule d'urgence (in French only)

Transcript :

The Move-Over Law

When an emergency vehicle, a tow truck or a surveillance vehicle is stopped and its arrow light or its rotating or flashing lights are activated, you must:

  • slow down and move over as far as possible from the stopped vehicle, but only once you have made sure you can do so safely
  • if necessary, stop your vehicle so as to not jeopardize the lives or safety of others

Offenders face:

  • a fine of $200 to $300
  • 4 demerit points

In the presence of a cyclist

Anticipate the presence of cyclists

Overhead view of a cyclist riding on the right side of the roadway who must swerve to the left to avoid an obstacle while being followed by a carRegardless of the weather, place and time of day, look out for cyclists. They must sometimes leave the far right side of the road to avoid debris or obstacles on the roadway.

Before you open your door

Overhead view of a lane in which a cyclist's path is obstructed by an open car door on the right and a vehicle travelling alongside him or her on the leftCheck to see whether a cyclist is coming. The Highway Safety Code requires that you do this. Get into the habit of opening the door with the opposite hand. That way, you can see whether a cyclist is in your blind spot before opening the door.

Keep your distance

Overhead view of a car passing a cyclist who is riding on the the side of the roadway by encroaching in the left lane, despite the solid line, so as to keep a distance of 1 metre from the cyclistWhen passing a cyclist, the Highway Safety Code requires that you slow down and keep a distance of 1 metre between your vehicle and the cyclist in zones of 50 km/h or less, and 1.5 metres in zones of more than 50 km/h. As you merge back into your lane, make sure you leave a reasonable amount of space for the cyclist.

Be cautious at intersections

Be cautious at intersectionsAlways be ready to see cyclists appear at intersections. Yield to cyclists riding on your right or on the roadway you are about to turn onto.

Yield the right of way to cyclists...

Overhead view of a car whose driver is about to make a left turn at an intersection yielding the right of way to a cyclist who is crossing the intersection in the opposite direction... who are crossing the lane you are about to turn onto.

Don't honk when you are near cyclists

Don't honk when you are near cyclistsYou may startle them, which may cause them to make a false move.

Sharing the road with pedestrians

  • When approaching a pedestrian, you must slow down and keep the following distance between your vehicle and the pedestrian:
    • 1 m in zones of 50 km/h or less
    • 1.5 m in zones of more than 50 km/h
  • At pedestrian crosswalks, you must stop your vehicle as soon as a pedestrian enters the crosswalk or clearly indicates the intention to do so. This is the case, for example, when:
    • the pedestrian is waiting on the sidewalk next to the pedestrian crosswalk
    • the pedestrian makes a hand gesture indicating the desire to cross
    • you have made eye contact with the pedestrian
  • It is preferable to make a hand gesture to let pedestrians who wish to cross know you have seen them.
  • Yield the right of way to pedestrians at intersections and be especially careful before turning right on a red light.
  • Keep your headlights on, especially in low-visibility weather conditions, to make sure you can see and be seen.

Being a good cyclist

Cyclists have the same rights and obligations as motorists. Bicycle safety starts with obeying the Highway Safety Code and adopting defensive cycling behaviours. Remember to be alert, listen and make sure you are seen. It's important!

Obey traffic signs and signals and the right of way

  • Even if the way is clear, red lights and stop signs mean that cyclists must come to a complete stop and wait for the green light before setting off again.
  • Cyclists must yield the right of way to any vehicle that occupies the lane they wish to enter.
  • Cycling the wrong way on a one-way street is prohibited, unless otherwise indicated by a traffic sign.

Good behaviours to adopt

Be visible at all times

Side view of a cyclist riding a bicycle equipped with a white front headlight that is switched on, a yellow reflector attached to the spokes of the front wheel, a red reflector attached to the spokes of the rear wheel and a red rear reflector that is reflecting lightEquip your bike with reflectors, a rear red light, a white headlight or light in the front and reflective strips. Wear brightly coloured clothing or clothes with reflective strips.

Other vehicles are bigger than you are. Make sure you are seen… especially at night!

Stay alert

Overhead view of a lane in which a cyclist's path is obstructed by an open car door on the right and a vehicle travelling alongside him or her on the leftAnticipate hazards, such as open car doors. Look out for potential danger areas, like potholes or sewer grates, and obey traffic lights. Wearing earphones or headphones and using a portable electronic device (cell phone, texting) is prohibited by the Highway Safety Code.

Follow traffic

Overhead view of a cyclist riding with the flow of traffic on a two-lane roadRide in a straight line and in a predictable pattern. Ride with the flow of traffic and keep right. Do not ride on sidewalks, except in case of necessity or where directed or allowed to do so by a sign or signal, and yield to pedestrians, for example at intersections where turning right on a red light is allowed.

Signal your intentions

Signal your intentionsLook behind you before changing lanes or turning. Use hand signals when turning – this is also a way of making your presence known to other road users.

Turn left safely

Two ways for cyclists to turn left: 1. By following the curve, like an automobile; 2. By making an L shaped turnThere are 2 ways of turning left safely:

  • like a vehicle, by going to the left at the intersection
  • like a pedestrian, by crossing the intersection in an L-pattern. This way is preferable in heavy traffic

Be extra careful near heavy vehicles

  • Watch out for heavy vehicle blind spots, especially at intersections. If you cannot see a heavy vehicle's rearview mirrors, the driver can't see you either.
  • Stay far ahead of or far behind a heavy vehicle, never beside it.
  • Never pass a heavy vehicle on the right.
  • Don't rely on your bell to signal your presence to a heavy vehicle driver: the driver won't hear you.
  • When a heavy vehicle passes, it creates a gust of wind powerful enough to make even the most experienced cyclists lose their balance. This is known as turbulence. If you see a heavy vehicle approaching, stop pedalling and hold the handlebars firmly.

Learn more about sharing the road between cyclists and heavy vehicles.

Being a good pedestrian

To ensure your safety, you should:

  • cross at the closest intersection or pedestrian crosswalk
  • obey pedestrian lights
  • walk on the sidewalk or, if there is no sidewalk, on the side of the road, facing oncoming traffic
  • check traffic before crossing (look left, then right, then left again and behind you)
  • make eye contact with drivers, and otherwise assume they have not seen you
  • avoid sources of distraction (talking or texting on a cell phone, using earphones) when walking, especially when crossing an intersection
  • be visible at all times (for example, wear bright or light-coloured clothing and reflective strips at night)

Around heavy vehicles

  • Avoid placing yourself in the heavy vehicle’s blind spots.
  • Be sure to make eye contact with the driver. Even if the driver is higher up, he or she can’t see everything and a heavy vehicle’s blind spots are much larger than those of a car. If you can’t see the driver, the driver can’t see you either. When in doubt, let the heavy vehicle go by.
  • Pay attention to the turn signal lights of heavy vehicles at intersections.

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