British Columbia speed limits are pretty low compared to Europe. Indicating for left and right-hand turns can be a bit hit and miss but driving around Metro Vancouver is pretty sedate outside of the main rush hour periods.
Driving is on the right-hand side of the road, seat belts are compulsory and daytime running lights are mandatory.
Speed limits are posted in kilometers per hour and drivers run the risk of on-the-spot fines if they exceed the posted limit.
Urban areas: 50km/h (30mph)
School zones: 30km/h (18mph)
Highways: 80 - 100km/h (50-62mph)
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.08%.
It is illegal to type, text or dial a cell phone or other hand-held device while driving in British Columbia. Get caught by a traffic cop and you face a $167 fine. Fixed voice-activated or one-touch devices are allowed.
Helmets are mandatory for motorcycles.
Licenses and Insurance
If you are visiting British Columbia for six months or less you can use the driving license issued in your country of residence. If you have an international driving permit, you still need to carry your standard overseas licence with it. Non-resident students can also drive on their home license but new residents will need to apply for a BC driver's license
within 90 days of arriving in the province.
New residents from Austria, Australia, Germany, France, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States and other Canadian provinces who have been driving for at least two years can automatically transfer their original license by visiting a driver licensing office and paying a $31 fee. New residents with non-English language licenses from the above countries should bring along a translation.
New residents from all other countries have to retake their road test as well as a knowledge and vision test before being issued with a BC driver's license.
All drivers require valid insurance at all times.
Child's Seat Regulations
Babies up to a year or 9kg (20lb) should be seated in rear-facing infant seats, with a five-piece harness in the back seat of a car. From the age of one onwards, babies weighing 9kgs (20lb) to 18kg (40lb), can be carried in forward-facing child seats fitted with a five-piece harness. Children up to the age of nine or 145cm (4’9”) require booster seats that can be used with standard seat belts.
The most dangerous driving conditions in Vancouver are caused by heavy rain. Dangerous snow and ice conditions are most common on the roads up to the Cypress and Seymour ski resorts
The Sea-to-Sky Highway between Squamish and Whistler and the Coquihalla Highway on the way to Kamloops or the Okanagan Valley
experience heavy snow conditions from November to April and four-wheel drive, snow tires or snow chains may be required for safe travel.
Fuel prices in British Columbia are usually more expensive than in the United States but much cheaper than Western Europe. Gas is priced by the liter and many gas stations require pre-payment 24/7.