Before getting behind the wheel to travel across Québec, it is best to get to know the particularities of our Highway Safety Code. This will enable you to drive safely and better appreciate Québec's attractions.
What are the particularities of the Highway Safety Code and the most common pitfalls? It's better to find out before causing an accident or receiving a fine.
Yes! In Québec, as in any other part of Canada or in the United States, we drive on the right side of the road.
In Québec, the legal limit is 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, or 0.08. This limit applies to holders of a “regular” driver's licence aged 22 or older.
It is prohibited for any driver's licence holder under the age of 22 to drive after consuming alcohol. In the event of an offence, the driver's licence is automatically suspended, the vehicle is seized and impounded and the fine varies from $300 to $600, in addition to other costs.
To know more, visit the page Drinking and Driving – What the Law Says.
In Québec, as everywhere else in Canada, speed limits are posted in kilometres per hour (km/h) and not in miles per hour (mph), as is the case in the United States.
The speed limit is 100 km/h, not 130 km/h as in most European countries.
The speed limit is generally 50 km/h. In certain areas, such as school zones, the speed limit is 30 km/h.
The speed limit is generally 90 km/h. Some zones post a speed limit of 80 km/h, 70 km/h or less. Keep your eyes open!
Go to the section entitled Speed – What the Law Says to find out how much it would cost you to commit a speeding offence in Québec.
In Québec and elsewhere in Canada, as in the United States—everywhere in North America in fact—red, amber and green traffic lights are located on the other side of the crossing, not at the stop line right in front of your car.
Remember that you do not stop at the foot of the lights, which would mean that you would have already crossed the intersection. It would already be too late for you and the other road users.
Turning right on a red light is permitted in Québec, except in Montréal and where prohibited by signs posted at intersections.
Always check the signs on the traffic light in question. In some cases, the sign indicates the times during which right turns on a red light are allowed or if you are prohibited from doing so.
When right turns on a red light are permitted, you must stop your vehicle, just like you would at a stop sign, and make sure you can turn safely before executing the manoeuvre.
To properly understand the principle of right turns on a red light, visit the relevant section.
This type of light is commonly used in Québec. When the green light flashes or a green arrow appears, this means that you have the right of way to turn left. The vehicles on the other side of the intersection are not allowed to move forward, since their light is red.
Something else that may surprise you: when turning left at an intersection, if vehicles facing you are also turning left, you have to turn in front of those vehicles – not turn behind those vehicles, as is done in Europe, Asia and Africa.
You may encounter two road signs, that both mean the same thing, indicating that turning left is prohibited, in Montréal in particular.
These signs are the following:
No left turns
Straight ahead or right turns only
Stop signs are everywhere in Québec and the rest of North America. At intersections, you will often see 4-way stop signs (marked “ARRÊT”).
The rule is: the first car to stop is the first to go, and so on.
Easily recognizable by their yellow colour, school buses must be taken seriously.
Failing to stop, in either direction, when a school bus's special red lights are flashing is one of the most severely punished offences.
When an emergency vehicle, 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, after making sure you can change lanes without causing an accident. If it is not possible to move over safely, you must stop and wait before driving around the stopped vehicle to avoid posing a risk to the lives or safety of others.
Offenders face a fine of $200 to $300, in addition to other costs.
To find out more, visit our page on the Move-Over Law.
In road work zones, you must obey the orange signs and slow down to comply with the posted speed limit. Doing so is essential to ensure the safety of workers and avoid fines and demerit points. Fines are doubled in the case of a speeding offence.
To find out more, visit our page on Road Work Zones.
Roundabouts, also called 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.
We recommend that you learn more about the proper manoeuvres on the site of the Ministère des Transports, de la Mobilité durable et de l'Électrification des transports (page in French only).
In Québec, horns are only used when justified by a particular situation. A horn must not be used to express one's anger, impatience or other mood. Even at weddings, horn concerts are not appropriate.
In the event that you feel compelled to honk your horn for no valid reason, you are subject to a fine of at least $100.
Here is a sampling of fines and penalties for the main offences under the Highway Safety Code in effect in Québec. Certain statements of offence, commonly known as “tickets,” are very dissuasive.