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HomeDriver's ResourcesDriving on Canadian highways

Driving on Canadian highways can be a great experience due to the beautiful landscapes you’ll encounter. However, it’s essential to follow some basic tips to ensure safety and enjoy your journey:

  1. Understanding Road Signs: Familiarize yourself with Canadian road signs, as they may differ slightly from those in other countries. Canada uses the metric system, so speed limits are in kilometres per hour, not miles per hour.
  2. Speed Limits: Speed limits vary depending on the highway and the province. They generally range from 80 to 110 km/h. Be mindful of the posted speed limit signs and adhere to them.
  3. Wildlife Crossings: Many Canadian highways cut through areas populated by wildlife. Look out for wildlife crossing signs and be extra careful, particularly at dawn and dusk when animals are more active.
  4. Winter Driving: Canadian winters can be harsh. If you’re driving in winter, ensure your vehicle is prepared for snowy and icy conditions. Consider using winter tires, keep extra blankets in the car, and always have a full tank of gas. Also, be aware of how to handle black ice situations.
  5. Road Etiquette: Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. Use your signals when changing lanes or turning. Also, use passing lanes on two-lane highways responsibly.
  6. Emergency Preparedness: It’s a good idea to carry an emergency kit in your car, which includes items like a first-aid kit, flashlight, jumper cables, and basic tool kit.
  7. Rest Stops: Canadian highways can stretch for hundreds of kilometres. Plan your rest stops in advance to avoid fatigue. There are plenty of rest stops, service centres, and scenic lookouts along the way.
  8. Drinking and Driving: As in most countries, drinking and driving is illegal and heavily penalized in Canada.
  9. Seat Belts: Wearing a seat belt is mandatory for everyone in the vehicle.
  10. Mobile Phones: Use of handheld devices while driving is prohibited. If you need to make a call or use your GPS, use hands-free options or pull over to a safe place.

Finally, always check the weather conditions and highway closures before you set out on your journey. Drive safely and enjoy your trip!

Improving your driving skills on Canadian highways

Improving your driving skills on Canadian highways can greatly enhance your safety and confidence. Here are some strategies to consider:

  1. Take Driving Courses: There are advanced driving courses available that focus on high-speed driving, defensive driving, and handling difficult driving situations. These courses can provide valuable hands-on experience and professional guidance.
  2. Understand Road Signs and Rules: Familiarize yourself with Canadian road signs and traffic laws. You might consider studying a driver’s handbook from the Canadian province in which you’ll be driving.
  3. Practice Winter Driving: If you’re not used to driving in winter conditions, it’s a good idea to practice driving in a safe, open area to get a feel for how your vehicle handles in the snow and ice. Learning how to recover from skids and slides is particularly important.
  4. Increase Awareness: Pay attention to other vehicles around you, maintain a safe distance, and anticipate other drivers’ actions. Be aware of the specific dangers of Canadian highways, such as wildlife on the road.
  5. Night Driving Skills: If you find driving at night challenging, practice it in safe conditions to improve your confidence. Ensure that your car’s lights are functioning properly, and don’t stare directly at the headlights of oncoming vehicles as it can impair your vision.
  6. Master Safe Passing: On two-lane highways, you’ll often need to pass slower vehicles. Make sure you have plenty of room, signal your intention, and don’t exceed the speed limit when doing so.
  7. GPS and Navigation Skills: Get comfortable with using GPS and traditional maps to understand the route, rest stops, fuel stations, etc. Always have a backup navigation option in case technology fails.
  8. Stay Calm: It’s crucial to maintain your composure while driving, especially in high-stress situations. Techniques such as deep breathing can help manage any anxiety and maintain focus on the road.
  9. Regular Vehicle Maintenance: Familiarize yourself with your vehicle’s maintenance. A well-maintained vehicle responds better, helping improve your overall driving experience.
  10. Defensive Driving: This involves always being ready for any unexpected occurrences, anticipating potential dangers, and taking steps to avoid them. For example, being mindful of vehicles in your blind spots, not assuming other drivers will give you the right of way, etc.

The key to becoming a better driver is practice and patience. Drive regularly on different types of roads and in different conditions, always with safety in mind.

Top 10 Most Dangerous Highways in Canada

  1. British Columbia: Highway 99, known as the Sea-to-Sky Highway, is often cited as dangerous due to sharp turns, steep cliffs, and high traffic volumes.
  2. Alberta: Highway 63, which leads to the oil sands in Fort McMurray, has been called “Death Highway” due to the volume of heavy truck traffic and frequency of serious accidents.
  3. Saskatchewan: Highway 35 is often listed as one of the most dangerous due to its high rate of accidents.
  4. Manitoba: Highway 75, which leads to the U.S. border, has been cited for a high number of collisions and can also be prone to flooding.
  5. Ontario: Highway 401, particularly in the Windsor corridor, is often mentioned as one of the most dangerous due to high traffic volumes and frequent accidents. It’s one of the busiest highways in North America.
  6. Quebec: Route 138, especially the section through the Charlevoix region, has been known for its sharp curves, steep slopes, and high accident rate.
  7. New Brunswick: Route 8, especially the stretch between Fredericton and Miramichi, has been cited as having a high collision rate.
  8. Nova Scotia: Highway 103, specifically the portion between Halifax and Bridgewater, has had high accident rates.
  9. Prince Edward Island: Highway 1, the Trans-Canada Highway, experiences high traffic volumes, especially during the summer months, increasing the risk of accidents.
  10. Newfoundland and Labrador: The Trans-Canada Highway, particularly through Terra Nova National Park, can be hazardous due to wildlife and changing weather conditions.

Please note that even if a highway has been identified as “dangerous,” this does not mean that every trip on it will be unsafe. The risk of accidents can be significantly reduced by driving responsibly, staying alert, adhering to speed limits, and adjusting to weather and road conditions. Always remember to check for current road conditions and potential hazards before setting off on your journey.

Driving on Highways and your car insurance

Driving on highways and car insurance are interconnected in many ways. Car insurance is crucial as it protects you financially in case of an accident or other unexpected event involving your vehicle. Here’s how these two topics are related:

Risk Assessment:

  1. Location: Insurers consider where you frequently drive. Highways often see higher speeds than city streets, increasing the risk of severe accidents. If you drive frequently on highways, especially ones with high accident rates, your insurer might assess you as being at a higher risk for a claim.
  2. Distance: Long-distance commuting or frequent long trips on highways might also influence your insurance rates. More miles driven equals more exposure to risk.


  1. Liability Coverage: This is a crucial part of your car insurance if you’re driving on highways. If you cause an accident, liability coverage pays for the other party’s medical bills and property damage up to your policy’s limit.
  2. Collision Coverage: Highways often have higher speed limits, increasing the severity of accidents. Collision coverage helps cover the cost to repair or replace your vehicle if it’s damaged in an accident.
  3. Comprehensive Coverage: This covers non-collision incidents that could occur on highways, like hitting an animal, storm damage, or theft at a rest stop.
  4. Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage: Not all drivers have sufficient insurance. This coverage protects you if you’re in an accident with a driver who doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough to cover your expenses.


  1. Accidents: In case of an accident on the highway, you should first ensure everyone’s safety, then inform the police and your insurance company. Document the scene and exchange information with any other parties involved.
  2. Effect on Premiums: Filing a claim can potentially increase your insurance premiums, especially if you’re at fault. However, the effect on your rate will depend on your specific policy, your insurer’s policies, and whether you have accident forgiveness.

Safety and Savings:

  1. Safe Driving: By following highway rules, maintaining safe following distances, adhering to speed limits, and practicing defensive driving, you can reduce your risk of an accident, which can help keep your insurance premiums lower.
  2. Discounts: Many insurance companies offer discounts for safe driving records, taking defensive driving courses, or using telematics programs that track safe driving habits.

About the Author: Valerie D. Hahn

Valerie is an insurance editor, journalist, and business professional at RateLab. She has more than 15 years of experience in personal financial products. She strives to educate readers and ensure that they are properly protected.

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