Unsafe and Inappropriate Behaviours

Many unsafe and inappropriate behaviours are seen on our roads. Although they might seem minor, these behaviours lead to many accidents and should be avoided.

Souvent posés sans intention malveillantes, par habitude ou inconsciemment par des usagers de la route, plusieurs gestes constituent des comportements imprudents ou inadéquats et contreviennent au Code de la sécurité routière. Voici les gestes imprudents le plus souvent observés dans les collisions.

Failing to yield the right of way

Yielding the right of way means letting cyclists, pedestrians or other vehicles go by when they have priority.

The obligation to yield the right of way applies in many situations:

  • When you are getting ready to enter a lane with your vehicle, the vehicles and cyclists that are already travelling in that lane have priority.
  • At an intersection with stop signs, you must yield the right of way to the vehicle that arrived before you. You must also yield to pedestrians and cyclists who are getting ready to cross the street.
  • When the street is too narrow to allow two-way traffic due to roadwork or an obstacle in your lane, you must yield to oncoming vehicles.
  • When nearing a traffic circle, you must slow down and yield to the road users that are already in the circle before you enter.
  • When nearing a pedestrian crosswalk, you must stop your vehicle and yield to pedestrians who are getting ready to cross the street.
  • When exiting a private driveway, you must yield to road users already on the roadway.

Various sections of the Highway Safety Code deal with situations that require yielding the right of way.

Running a red light

All drivers should know that going through an intersection when the light is red is strictly prohibited. Moreover, when a traffic light turns yellow, drivers must slow down and stop before the intersection if it is possible to do so safely. Obeying the speed limit helps to be able to perform this manoeuvre properly and safely.

Running a red light is an extremely dangerous behaviour that can have serious consequences.

Failing to make a mandatory stop

When nearing a stop sign, drivers must stop their vehicle and yield to any other vehicle that has arrived at the intersection before them. Moreover, they must let pedestrians who are crossing the intersection or getting ready to cross the intersection go by. When in doubt, courtesy is key. Make sure to make eye contact with other road users and yield the right of way to them.


Whether due to a lack of awareness or an aggressive attitude at the wheel, some drivers follow other vehicles too closely. In Québec, keeping a safe distance between one’s vehicle and the one ahead is mandatory. The driver of a road vehicle who is following another vehicle or a cyclist must do so at a reasonable and safe distance that takes into account speed, traffic density, and weather and road conditions. Keeping a safe distance allows drivers to react properly in case of sudden braking or an unexpected manoeuvre and thus avoid an accident.

In addition, the safe distance that must be kept in front of a heavy vehicle is even greater. Because of its weight, a heavy vehicle requires more distance when braking. Therefore, it is important not to place yourself in that zone when passing, for example.

Changing lanes without notice

Changing lanes safely is a manoeuvre that is essential to master when driving a vehicle. Before changing lanes, you must always signal your intentions and make sure that other vehicles leave you enough space. Be attentive to the intentions of other drivers who wish to merge into your lane and give them sufficient space to do so. It is a matter of courtesy and safety.

Many unsafe passing manoeuvres are prohibited by the Highway Safety Code, for example: accelerating when being passed by another vehicle, successive passing of multiple vehicles in a zigzag pattern, or prohibited passing on the right or left.

Did you know?

Failing to signal your intentions is an unsafe behaviour. Switching on your turn signal light lets other road users anticipate your actions and can also help avoid accidents. Using your turn-signal lights is not optional—it is mandatory. Failure to do so is an offence under the Highway Safety Code.

Drifting into another lane

Drifting into another lane is a very dangerous behaviour and is the cause of many serious accidents. Drifting is often the result of other dangerous situations or behaviours that are regulated by the Highway Safety Code, such as distracted driving, alcohol- or drug-impaired driving, fatigue or poor vision.

It is essential that you always remain focussed on your trajectory and avoid taking risks by being careful to stay within the limits of your lane.

Being impatient or aggressive

Aggressiveness and impatience have no place at the wheel. When you are driving, you must remain calm and not be influenced by the rude or dangerous behaviour of other drivers. Everyone should focus on their own driving, which already requires enormous attention.

Driver aggressiveness and impatience often lead to risky or prohibited manoeuvres, such as speeding and prohibited or dangerous lane changes, which can quickly cause an accident.

Last update: July 21, 2022