Tips for International Visitors
How to stay out of trouble driving
In Canada and the U.S.
The defensive driving skills mentioned in the
Driving safely page are vital for
The following tips will be most helpful to people new to Canada
and the United States.
They'll help you know some laws that you should take very seriously, in order to avoid expensive traffic
fines, revocation of your driver's licence, or even jail.
Driving in both Canada and the States is highly policed. Because the law considers driving a privilege and not a right, courts can and do take away the privilege.
- Not stopping completely at red traffic
lights or stop signs.
Canadian and U.S. police want to see you do more than
merely slow down.
- Parking too near intersections and fire
(water) hydrants. (The laws in each province or state vary regarding
the permitted distance, but if you block the view, you are too close.)
- Speeding. In North America, speed is checked
by radar and sometimes by airplanes monitoring traffic from the
Most people believe no tickets will be issued for speeds
within five miles per hour of the limit, but Dr. Voyageur does not
- Driving without liability insurance, which
provides funds to the other parties if you cause an accident.
This is in addition to having an international driver's licence
or a licence issued by a province or state in Canada or the U.S.
and driving a vehicle that has a valid registration plate.
some locales, vehicles must pass government approved safety inspections
before they can be registered. Know this well before giving someone
money for a used car. It is nearly worthless if you cannot register it.
- Having open containers of alcohol within
the vehicle—even if the driver is not drinking.
- Being under the influence of alcohol or
illegal drugs while driving, which can result in incarceration,
permanent loss of the vehicle, loss of driver's licence, in addition
to a large fine.
If accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, a blood
or breath test is mandatory. Refusal results in immediate
loss of driving privileges.
In addition, many police departments make a video of accused
drivers attempting to perform various motor skills, such as touching
a finger to the nose or walking one foot in front of the other.
This makes it nearly impossible for an inebriated driver to
be found not guilty in court by saying that the police radar
was not working or some other lame excuse.
Years ago, an inebriated driver was a source of amusement. But, attitudes
High speed travelling calls for focus and skill. A split
second of inattention can lead to tragedy. Therefore, have a
designated non-drinking driver to chauffeur a group home from
clubs or parties or use taxis or public transportation.
Beware of parking hassles
Beware of parking fines in large cities. Such tickets can cost a fortune.
And, watch for situations where parking violators are frequently towed (Vancouver, B.C., Washington, D.C., etc.).
Do not believe that there are not enough tow trucks to possibly service all the violators during rush hour. That wheel lock that the police have placed on your vehicle will hold it until towing is available.
After paying your city parking fine—which wipes out the entire municipal debt—and after somehow finding out what towing company has your car, you must grab a taxi to take you to some out-of-the-way parking lot (often guarded by vicious dogs and barbed wire) located halfway to your home country.
However, wait a moment. The towing company has a few requests prior to releasing your vehicle:
Request number one, your first born child.
Okay, this is an exaggeration. How unlike Dr. Voyageur!
In reality, your vehicle will be returned in exchange for all your remaining wealth—or at least it will seem so.
This will often involve a roundtrip taxi ride to a bank or a Western Union office—during its business hours. Nearly never are cheques or credit cards accepted.
Oh, it is Saturday afternoon, and your funds will not be available until Monday?
Dr. Voyageur is so sorry.
But, you have to return your rental car now before rushing off to a flight to Europe?
If its fee is not paid, the towing company may legally hold your vehicle—and charge daily storage fees until the vehicle is ransomed.
Avoid this American or Canadian urban disaster.
For more health and safety tips
Go to >> Driving
safely in Canada and the U.S.
Go to >> Being safe
Go to >> Staying
Go to >> Staying
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