Before getting behind the wheel, you must first become familiar with the particularities of the Highway Safety Code. This will help ensure you drive safely.
What are the particularities of the Highway Safety Code? It is important that you know them to avoid causing accidents or receiving a fine.
In Québec, as everywhere else in Canada or the United States, you must drive on the right side of the road.
In Québec, you are prohibited from driving a vehicle if your blood alcohol concentration is equal to or higher than 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, or 0.08. This limit applies to holders of a driver's licence aged 22 or older.
Important! The zero-alcohol rule applies to drivers under age 22 and all new drivers (learner’s licence or probationary licence), regardless of their age.
To know more, visit the page Drinking and Driving – What the Law Says.
Just like with alcohol, driving while impaired by drugs (including cannabis and medication) is a criminal act.
While cannabis may be legal in Canada, you and your passengers are prohibited from smoking it inside a vehicle.
To find out more, visit the webpage Drugs and Medication – What the Law Says.
In Québec, like everywhere else in Canada, speed limits are posted in kilometres per hour (km/h), and not in miles per hour (mph) as they are in the United States.
The legal speed limit is 50 km/h. However, municipalities lower the speed limit in certain areas, for example in school zones, where the speed limit is usually 30 km/h. Watch for signs!
The speed limit is usually 90 km/h. However, on certain roads, the speed limit can be 80 km/h, 70 km/h or lower. Keep your eyes open!
The speed limit is 100 km/h, and not 130 km/h as it is in several European countries.
Speeding leads to demerit points and fines that vary based on how much faster than the speed limit you were driving.
Seat belt use is mandatory for all automobile passengers (riding in both the front and rear).
The law requires that children be properly secured in a car seat that is adapted to their weight and height until they are 145 cm tall or 9 years old. We recommend that you continue to have your child use a booster seat until you are certain that the seat belt alone can be used correctly.
A seat belt can be used correctly when both of the following conditions are met:
It is recommended that children aged 12 or younger ride in the back seat.
In Québec and elsewhere in Canada and the United States, traffic lights are on the other side of the street. They are not at the stop line, in front of the car's hood.
Turning right on a red light is allowed in Québec, except on the island of Montréal and where prohibited by signs posted at intersections.
Always check the signs below the traffic light in question. In some cases, the sign indicates the times during which the prohibition applies.
When turning right on a red light is permitted, you must stop your vehicle at the intersection, just like you would at a stop sign. Before making the turn, you must yield the right of way to pedestrians, cyclists and drivers already in or about to enter the intersection. Then, make sure you can make the turn safely.
When the green light flashes or a green arrow appears, this means that you can turn left, after yielding the right of way to vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists already in the intersection. The vehicles on the other side of the intersection are not allowed to move forward, as their light is red.
Stop signs (marked "ARRÊT" in Québec) are everywhere in Québec and the rest of North America. The rule is: the first vehicle to stop is the first to go, and so on. You must also yield the right of way to pedestrians already in the intersection.
School buses are easily recognizable by their yellow colour. When their yellow flashing lights are activated, you must slow down and prepare to stop. When the red lights are flashing and the stop signs are deployed on the sides of the bus, you must stop your vehicle more than 5 metres away from the bus, regardless of whether you are following or meeting the bus from the opposite direction. This rule does not apply when there is a median wall between your vehicle and the bus. Failing to obey these rules is one of the most severely punished offences.
In Québec, horns are only used when justified by a particular situation. You must therefore never use your horn to express your anger or impatience. Using the horn for no reason is subject to a fine of at least $100.
When an emergency vehicle (police, fire department, ambulance), a tow truck or a surveillance vehicle is stopped by the side of the road and its rotating or flashing lights are activated, you must create a buffer lane. You are required to slow down and move over to increase your distance from the stopped vehicle as much as possible. If it is not possible to move over safely, you must stop and wait before driving around the stopped vehicle.
In road work zones, you must obey the orange signs and slow down to comply with the posted speed limit. Doing so is mandatory to ensure the safety of the workers and to avoid fines and demerit points. Fines are doubled for a speeding offence in a road work zone.
In Québec, from December 1 to March 15, your vehicle must be equipped with four winter tires in good condition, otherwise you are committing an offence. You must also clear the snow off of your entire vehicle (windshield, windows, mirrors, roof, hood and lights) to have good visibility. You must also reduce your speed when visibility is reduced under conditions of darkness, fog, rain or other precipitation, or when the roadway is slippery or not fully cleared, etc.
Roundabouts, also known as traffic circles or rotaries, are intersections made up of a central island around which 1, 2, 3 or 4 traffic lanes merge in a star-shaped pattern. Roundabouts encourage speed reduction, contribute to reducing the number and severity of accidents and regulate the flow of traffic, as vehicles enter the roundabout only when the way is clear.
A person's ability to drive can be compromised by alcohol, drugs or certain medications, which increases the risk of accidents. If you are found guilty of a criminal offence for alcohol- or drug-impaired driving, it may be difficult for you to enter the United States or to find work. A criminal conviction can be very expensive, meaning thousands of dollars.
Speed is one of the leading causes of accidents on Québec roads. A speeding offence can lead to demerit points and a fine. Your driver's licence will be suspended if you commit an excessive speeding offence and your vehicle could even be seized (towed away) and impounded.
Rolling down the window, turning up the radio, singing, chewing gum or talking to passengers are not effective solutions when you are tired. When the first signs of fatigue begin to appear, the best solution is to stop to take a 15- to 30-minute nap and to drink a cup of coffee before setting off again. The nap is not a substitute for a good night's sleep, but it will help you continue your trip safely for a while.
Using a cell phone or any other portable electronic device while driving is prohibited. Simply holding a device in your hand or in any other manner while driving is prohibited, even if you are waiting at a red light or stuck in a traffic jam.
To use your cell phone or any other portable electronic device, park at a location where it is safe and legal to do so. You may, however, use hands-free devices while driving.
Watch out for cyclists and anticipate their presence on the road. Cyclists must sometimes leave the far right side of the road to avoid obstacles.
Keep your distance: the Highway Safety Code requires that, when passing a cyclist, 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.
At intersections, before turning, watch out for cyclists, check your blind spots and yield the right of way to cyclists.
When parked, before opening your car door, make sure that no cyclists are approaching.
In Québec, all road users have a duty to be careful and considerate when travelling on a public highway, especially toward more vulnerable road users.
Watch out for pedestrians, particularly at intersections where they gather in greater numbers. It is also important to anticipate their presence at pedestrian crosswalks and near other locations where pedestrians are likely to be (schools, hospitals, playgrounds, commercial establishments, etc.). Be sure to:
In the event of injury or death as a result of a traffic accident in Québec or elsewhere, the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec compensates all Quebecers, regardless of whether or not they were responsible for the accident.
For property damage, you are required to have a third-party liability insurance contract of at least $50,000.
Last update: February 1, 2021