Behaviours – Courtesy and Sharing the Road

Bad Habits and Good Behaviours

Lack of courtesy and aggressiveness have no place on the road. Some poor behaviours are actual offences under the Highway Safety Code.

Courtesy applies to everyone: drivers, cyclists and pedestrians

On the road network, being courteous and respecting others are very important to avoid conflict and accidents.

In most cases, things you might consider merely a question of courtesy are actually required by the Highway Safety Code, such as using your turn signal lights, yielding the right of way and avoiding honking for no reason.

Showing a lack of courtesy can include…

  • Tailgating
  • Cutting off another vehicle
  • Refusing to yield the right of way
  • Honking repeatedly and for no reason
  • Narrowly missing cyclists when passing them
  • Stopping on the pedestrian crosswalk at an intersection

Showing courtesy on the road means…

  • treating other road users with respect and tolerance, whether they be other drivers, pedestrians or cyclists
  • raising a hand to thank someone who made things easier for you
  • making a sorry gesture when you make an error—doing so can help prevent conflict
  • keeping your cool under all circumstances
  • keeping a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of you
  • leaving enough space for cyclists and pedestrians

It's not always someone else's fault

When bad behaviours occur on the road, our first reflex is often to blame the other road user. However, we are all distracted, tense or nervous on occasion, and we can all make an awkward manoeuvre.

If you have a tendency to be impatient when driving, acknowledging this fact is the first step. Congratulations!

Little tricks you can use right away

  • Don't drive when you are tired, nervous, stressed or overly emotional, such as after an argument or hearing bad news.
  • Leave a little earlier. Before driving off, if you are “connected,” you can check traffic in real time on several Web sites or apps, such as Transports Québec's traffic webcams, Google Maps, Waze, etc.
    • Remember! When you are driving, you may not use your cell phone or other electronic devices. This is strictly prohibited. However, some alternatives exist. Find out more!
  • Use less busy roads.
  • Avoid tense conversations with passengers.
  • Cooperate with other drivers, for example by making things easier for them when changing lanes. You'll see how good you feel after a good deed!

Watch out for pedestrians: they are vulnerable

When approaching a pedestrian, motorists must slow down and keep the following distance between their 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

Approaching a pedestrian without slowing down or without keeping a reasonable distance of 1 m or 1.5 m is an offence under the Highway Safety Code that can lead to:

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

Yielding the right of way to pedestrians

Motorists must be vigilant, especially at pedestrian crosswalks and at intersections.

Pedestrian crosswalks

At pedestrian crosswalks, motorists must stop their vehicles 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
  • eye contact is made

It is preferable to make a hand gesture to let pedestrians know they can cross.


Motorists must:

  • stop before the stop line
  • yield the right of way to pedestrians, in particular before turning right on a red light

Not yielding the right of way to pedestrians is an offence that can lead to:

  • a fine of $100 to $200
  • 2 demerit points

Watch out for cyclists: they are vulnerable

Motorists should leave enough space between their vehicle and cyclists. This helps prevent accidents if ever a cyclist needs to make a sudden manoeuvre, for example to go around a sewer grate.

If you must pass a cyclist, slow down and keep a distance between your vehicle and the cyclist of:

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

Passing a cyclist without slowing down or when there isn’t a reasonable distance of 1 m or 1.5 m

This is an offence under the Highway Safety Code that can lead to:

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

Signaling your intentions is mandatory

Whether you are driving a vehicle or riding a bicycle, signaling your intentions is not an option but an obligation. It lets other road users know what you are planning to do, such as turn, change lanes, pass another road user, etc.

Not signaling your intentions is an offence under the Highway Safety Code that can lead to:

  • a fine of $100 to $200 for the driver of a road vehicle
  • a fine of $80 to $100 for a cyclist

By clicking on the video, you will change the context of this page.

Signaler ses intentions (in French only)

Transcript :

Keeping a safe distance is mandatory

Some drivers have a habit of tailgating other vehicles to show their impatience or to force their way past them. This could contribute to creating conflict.

The driver being tailgated might lose patience and make a dangerous manoeuvre, such as suddenly changing lanes, accelerating or cutting another vehicle off. That’s why it’s necessary to keep a safe distance.

Image illustrating how to keep a safe distance on a road with fast-moving traffic.

A safe distance is the distance you must travel to reach a reference point in a certain amount of time:

  • In the city
    We recommend 4 seconds or longer
  • On a road where traffic moves faster
    We recommend 6 seconds or longer
  • On a wet, icy or snow-covered roadway
    We recommend 8 to 10 seconds or longer

You should ideally increase this distance when visibility is reduced (at night, in rain, in fog) or when driving on dangerous surfaces (gravel roads, or slippery or damaged roads).

Tailgating another vehicle is an offence under the Highway Safety Code and may result in:

  • a fine of $100 to $200
  • 2 demerit points

By clicking on the video, you will change the context of this page.

Garder ses distances (in French only)

Transcript :

Staying a safe distance away from heavy vehicles

Heavy vehicles have bigger blind spots than cars and they have a much longer braking distance.

Give them enough space to brake and signal your intentions in advance to give heavy vehicle drivers the opportunity to adjust their driving.

By clicking on the video, you will change the context of this page.

Circuler près des véhicules lourds (in French only)

Transcript :

How to deal with an aggressive driver

A driver is tailgating you

Let that person pass.

  • If you are in the left lane, move over to the right lane, provided you can do so safely.
  • Look straight ahead. It’s important to keep your eyes on the road and not on the driver tailgating you.
  • Don’t react to provocation, flashing headlights or honking. You will avoid increasing the tension between you and the other driver.

Someone gets out of a vehicle and comes toward you

  • Stay in your vehicle, roll up the windows and lock the doors.
  • The “conversation” has gotten off to a bad start? Don’t respond, whether verbally or with gestures.
  • If the other person begins hitting your vehicle, breathe deeply and figure out how you can drive away safely. Drive calmly to an area where you will be able to get help, should you need it.
  • Avoid going home. If an aggressive driver is following you, you don’t want that person to know where you live!

The videos and radio ads on this page are provided for consultation purposes only.