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"Wrong" side of road

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York, United Kingdom
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70 posts
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"Wrong" side of road

Could anyone please advise me on where to look for a highway code book.I will be coming to BC in Sept. and would like to hire a car.Although I have been to Canada several times I have always relied on public transport or friends to get around.I would like to familiarise myself with the rules of the highway first though.I am hoping to get off the beaten track and pick up and go wherever and whenever I like.

Many thanks

Chris

Vancouver BC
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for Vancouver
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1. Re: "Wrong" side of road

You can Google "British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act" for pages of details that most locals have never read. The reality is the rules of the road are essentially the same here as you have at home except for the driving lane. That takes some learning because you have to control your automatic reactions. Oh, and you'll have to learn the difference between the wipers and the turn signal.

Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: "Wrong" side of road

Here is the link for the "learn to drive smart" book that is provided to persons wanting to learn to drive in BC -

icbc.com/driver-licensing/…Variables._frag_

It (in particular Chapters 3 and 4) may help you identify any way in which our driving laws/practices are different from where you live.

Rockies BC
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3. Re: "Wrong" side of road

For what this is worth, I found when driving in the UK that it wasn't the "wrong" side of the road that was the problem, it was the "wrong" side of the car, particularly when making turns. When driving here in Canada the bulk of the car is on my right; in the UK all of a sudden it was on my left. I just didn't feel comfortable & couldn't get used to it. DH, however, who had driven a bit in Scotland in his early 20's, had no problem whatsoever.

A couple major difference we noted in the UK: roundabouts. We generally don't have them here in BC. (Where we do have the, drivers routinely ignore the rules and even drive around them the wrong way!) They are a fabulous invention and I wish we had them here.

Also: the habit of "flicking" your headlights at someone passing you to let them know you see them & they can come back into your lane. At least I think that's what we thought was going on - we couldn't figure it out when we were in the UK. They certainly don't do that here.

However, if someone does "give you a break" it is a nice courtesy to give a "wave" thanks. Make sure you are clearly giving a wave - raising & waving your hand in your rearview mirror is a good way to do it - so it won't be misinterpreted as an obscene gesture!

Also: we don't have motorways that you can bomb along at 100 miles per hour. Generally speaking the highest speed is 100km (110 kmon parts of the Coquihalla), which is only 60 miles. You really need to obey the speed limits not only to avoid a speeding ticket but because of the winding roads, the risk of wildlife on a road (hit a moose at 120km/hr & you could easily end up dead), weather. etc etc.

Vancouver, Canada
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4. Re: "Wrong" side of road

The ICBC link above is the best site for this sort of information. The gov't site would be less user friendly.

Vancouver, Canada
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5. Re: "Wrong" side of road

Ah yes, wildlife on the road.

Not to frighten the OP off or anything, I'm just saying ....

Quite a few years ago, we had left Osoyoos, eastbound in the late afternoon. I was driving. City slicker, typical highway, nice weather. There were these hilarious signs, with little moose-like animals on them. The antlers part of the icons were very clever, "cute", ha ha. And the speed part of the sign said Slow to 60 km/h. Sure, nothing to the left of me, nothing to the right, just scenery, yeah sure. As I came up over a slight hill ... right there ... were 5 of them .... BIG thems, just meandering across the hwy to the river for their nightly drink. I still remember the visceral reaction. I think I still have hair standing on the back of my neck from that experience. We and the car lived and learned.

Vancouver-by-the-Sea
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for British Columbia
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6. Re: "Wrong" side of road

The Good News is that the further you are off the beaten track the less rules apply-as you will no doubt find out.

Edited: 22 February 2010, 23:20
Ottawa, Canada
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7. Re: "Wrong" side of road

Hi ChrisYork,

There are a couple of things that do stand us apart evidently from other countries (besides driving on the right hand side):

On our expressways with multiple lanes (3 or more) the preferred method is to pass on the left with SLOWER Traffic "staying" to the right... However there are lots of folks unfortunately who don't seem to understand the concept of Driving Lanes vs Passing Lane (singular).

To them the words "Right Lane" seems to mean they see themselves having "the Right" to sit at whatever speed in whichever lane. If people actually followed the Guidelines and drove in the lane with which they were travelling at speed... then the traffic would generally move at a quicker pace as no one crawling along would be in the wrong lane. As well the far left lane would not become overly congested and would work better in the case of Emergency Vehicles requiring access (it is the law to move out of the way to give the right of way to Emergency Vehicles with their lights flashing... most normally to the right hand side). Unfortunately, a lot of folks don't seem to read or comprehend the fine points of the Highway Act and how it is applied in real life. As someone who has a done a lot of driving, I have to say sadly I have seen it way too often.

The one thing you don't want to do is doddle along in the middle lane (in a 3 lane situation)... if you are in that lane it is expected that you will drive at speed with the flow of traffic... not just faster than the right lane (and god-forbid you be driving slower than the right lane... a BIG No-No). So if the rightlane is doing 60 K and the middle lane 80 K, don't be doing 70, 60 or 50 ! If you can't keep up, move over to the right lane for slower traffic.

When it comes to passing (especially on a 2 lane expressway... typically which connects our cities to one another), we want you to get out there, accelerate past the car, and get back into the right lane... don't end up in the left lane hogging it as you take your time passing the offending slow car. Get out, get back, it is the "Canadian Way".

Two lane traffic (one on one) isn't any different than driving anywhere else in the world, except now for yourself you'll be on the opposite side of the road.

Generally speaking Canadians are a friendly bunch on the roads... and yes we wave when someone lets us in, or makes another considerate move for us. Wave and smile back... and remember to do the same if we happen to let you in or by (parking lots at the mall are a good place to see this all in action).

Anyways, overall no worries... driving in Canada really isn't that difficult (at least in the summertime... wintertime whole other ball of wax).

;-) *wink*

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

Greater Sydney...
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8. Re: "Wrong" side of road

..... and give a sheepish grin when you walk up to the car, if not parallel parked, keys in hand, open door and.....no steering wheel? Been there - done that. :)

Toronto, Canada
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9. Re: "Wrong" side of road

My impression has always been that lane discipline -- driving in the inner lane and only using the outer lane for passing -- is much better in Europe than in North America. (One imagines dawdling in the left lane on the Autobahn could be fatal or at least terrifying.) So apologies in advance for when you find yourself stuck behind someone in the left lane going 101 km/h "passing" someone in the right lane going 100 km/h.

Ottawa, Canada
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10. Re: "Wrong" side of road

TO MATTINTO,

True, true... and certainly some parts of North America are better at this understanding of the "passing lane" than others...

;-) *wink*

And ya as someone who drives a lot all over NA, I gotta say there is nothing worse than being that "polite" Canadian stuck behind that guy doing 66 Mph while he passes that other driver doing 65.... aaaaahh.

Drives me nuts... and of course forget about being on cruise-control these types will box you in every time.

*breathe in - breathe out*

I'll be ok, no southern drives coming up in the near future.

Cheers!

Wine-4-2