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Driving in Halifax

Highways 101-104 connect Halifax with the rest of Canada.  When you drive in town, keep your eye out for pedestrians, as they have the right of way and frequently take advantage of this by walking across the street in the middle of the block.  U-turns are legal except when specifically barred by a sign.

Visitors or newcomers to Nova Scotia who own a passenger vehicle can drive it for personal (non-business) purposes for up to 90 days without having to register the vehicle. After 90 days, it must be registered in Nova Scotia. Similarly, if you have a valid driver’s license from another part of Canada or from another country, it is valid in Nova Scotia for up to 90 days.

Nova Scotia has a Graduated Driver Licensing system with 3 levels:

(1) Learner’s License, sometimes called Beginner’s

(2) Newly Licensed Driver’s License

(3) regular Driver’s License

All new drivers have to graduate from the first 2 levels before they can get a regular Driver’s License.

For more information on Vehicle Permits and the various types of Nova Scotia driver’s licenses, see the Nova Scotia Permits Directory

Driving in Canada is similar to driving in parts of the United States.  Distances and speeds, however, are posted in kilometers per hour, and some signs, particularly in Quebec, may only be in French. Other points of interest:

  • In Nova Scotia, as in the rest of North America, vehicles drive on the right side of the road.
  • Seat-belt use is mandatory.
  • An annual vehicle safety inspection is mandatory.
  • Public Liability and Property Damage (PLPD) insurance coverage (a minimum of $200,000 Canadian) is mandatory for all motor vehicles.
  • Motorists are required to have in their vehicle (a) driver’s license, (b) proof of financial responsibility (insurance) and (c) vehicle registration permit. If the vehicle is borrowed or not registered in the driver’s name, the same documentation must also be in the vehicle. If the vehicle is rented, the driver must have a copy of the rental agreement.
  • Driver’s licenses are usually valid for five years; vehicle permits for two years.
  • Unless otherwise posted, the maximum speed limit in Canada is 50km/hr in cities and 80km/hr on highways.On rural highways, the posted speed limit may be 100km/hr (approximately 60 miles/hr).
  • Some provinces require drivers to keep their headlights on during the day.
  • Motorcycles cannot share a lane, and safety helmets for drivers and passengers are mandatory.
  • Many highways do not have merge lanes for entering traffic.

Emergency vehicles frequently enter the oncoming traffic lane to avoid congestion. As in the United States, all emergency assistance in Canada can be reached by dialing 911.


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