Safe driving practices

A quick review of important safety practices for drivers, including seatbelts, child car seats and booster seats, checking blind spots, obeying the speed limit and yielding to other road users.

Make sure everyone wears a seatbelt

All Ontario motor vehicle drivers and passengers must wear a seatbelt that is:

  • properly adjusted
  • securely fastened

Drivers are also responsible for ensuring any children who are not big enough or old enough to use a seatbelt are secured in an appropriate child car seat or booster seat.

If you wear a seatbelt properly, you are more likely to survive a crash. Evidence shows that Ontario's seatbelt law works and has helped strengthen our leading road safety record.

Seatbelt fines

If you are driving, you can face a fine if you or anyone in your vehicle under age 16 is not wearing a seatbelt or secured in a proper child seat. If you are convicted, you will:

  • be fined between $200 and $1,000
  • receive two demerit points - demerit points remain on your driving record for two years

You can also be fined for having a broken seatbelt, even if it is not being used when you're stopped by a police officer.

Seatbelt tips


  • wear your seatbelt so that it crosses your chest and your lower hips - these areas of the body are better able to resist the force of a crash
  • make sure you have one working seatbelt for every person in your vehicle

If you're pregnant, you still need to wear a seatbelt. You should:

  • wear both the lap and shoulder belt
  • sit as upright as possible
  • wear the lap belt low so it pulls downward on your pelvic bones and not across your stomach

Do not:

  • wear any part of your seatbelt twisted - a twisted seatbelt won't spread the force of a crash across your body to protect you properly
  • put the shoulder strap under your arm or behind your back

Air bags do not take the place of a seatbelt. They won't prevent you or your passengers from being thrown out of your car, and they can also injure children.

Passengers over age 16

Passengers who are 16 years of age or older are responsible for buckling up themselves. If you appear to be at least 16 years of age, police officers can ask you for your name, address and date of birth. You will face a fine if you are not using or wearing a seatbelt properly.

Seatbelts in taxis

You must wear a seatbelt whenever you travel in a taxi. Taxi drivers must make sure that their cars have seatbelts in good working order.

The law does not require the taxi driver to provide a child car seat. When travelling in a taxi with a child, you should provide your own child car seat or booster seat.

Passengers under age 16

While they're not required to sit in the back seat, research has shown that children under age 13 are safest in the back seat of motor vehicles away from active airbags.

Exception: Where a back seat is unavailable, or if the back seat is a sideways facing seat, such as in a light-duty truck, children can sit in the front seat only if:

  • there is no active airbag for the front seat
  • the front air bag can be switched off*

*If there is no switch to turn the air bag on/off, visit Transport Canada for more information on their deactivation program.

You can get information on child passenger safety from your local public health unit.

Choose a child car seat

No seatbelts needed

Seatbelts are not required in the following vehicles:

  • buses (including school buses)
  • other large commercial vehicles (over 4,536 kg) that don't require seatbelts to be installed in rear seating positions at the time of manufacture
  • vehicles that were manufactured in or imported into Canada before January 1, 1974
  • vehicles manufactured without seatbelt assemblies for each seating position

Seatbelts are not required for the following passengers:

  • people with medical certificates stating they are unable to wear a seatbelt
  • people engaged in work that requires them to exit from and re-enter the vehicle at frequent intervals (must travel less than 40 km/h)
  • a person in police custody while being transported, as well as police or peace officers while transporting a person in custody
  • employees and agents of Canada Post delivering rural mail
  • ambulance attendants and those being transported in the patient's compartment of an ambulance
  • firefighters in the rear of a fire department vehicle while responding to an emergency
  • taxi cab drivers while transporting a passenger for hire (when travelling alone in the vehicle, taxi cab drivers must wear a seatbelt)
  • anyone legally driving a motor vehicle in reverse

Even if you are using your mirrors, there is an area you can't see on each side of your vehicle. When people or vehicles are in these areas, there is always danger. Stay alert!

When driving, keep checking the road ahead and to the side to avoid danger.

To change lanes

  1. Check your mirrors, your blind spots, any adjacent lanes and ahead for a space in traffic where you can enter safely.
  2. Signal when you want to move left or right when there is enough space for you to change lanes.
  3. Keep a safe distance between you and any vehicles in front or beside you.
  4. Adjust your speed to match the speed of traffic in the new lane.
  5. Change lanes with a smooth, gradual movement into the centre of the new lane.

Blind spot tips


  • check and adjust your mirrors to reduce your blind spots as much as possible.
  • turn your head to look over your shoulder before you:
    • change lanes
    • pass a vehicle
    • turn right or left
    • open your door when you park on a street next to traffic
  • check your mirrors every few seconds
  • make sure you see other drivers and that they see you
  • stay out of other drivers' blind spots - particularly trucks, snow plows and other large vehicles
  • take extra care to make sure the way is clear behind you when backing up

Do not:

  • put anything in your windows that will block your view
  • coat the windshield or windows with any material that keeps you from seeing out or that keeps someone from seeing inside the vehicle

Stay within the maximum speed limit posted on signs along all roads. As a general rule, you will be safer if you drive at the same speed as traffic around you, without going over the speed limit.

Always drive at a speed that will let you stop safely, whether roads are wet or dry.

Where there are no posted speed limit signs, do not drive faster than:

  • 50 km/hour in cities, towns, villages and built-up areas
  • 80 km/hour in any other area


If you are convicted of speeding, you may receive demerit points in addition to fines.

Demerit points:

  • 3 points for going over the speed limit by 16 to 29 km/hour
  • 4 points for going over the speed limit by 30 to 49 km/hour
  • 6 points for going over the speed limit by 50 km/hour or more

Your fine will depend on how fast you were travelling over the posted speed limit:

Fines for driving over the speed limit
How much over the speed limit Fine per km/h over the speed limit
Less than 20 km/h $3
20 to less than 30 km/h $4.50
30 to less than 50 km/h $7
50 km/h or more $9.75

Street racing

If police stop you for driving 50 km/h or more over the speed limit, you will be charged with street racing. Police will suspend your licence on the spot and impound your vehicle for 7 days. If convicted, you will face penalties that include:

Penalties for street racing convictions
Number of Convictions Penalties
  • $2,000 to $10,000 fine
  • Jail term of up to 6 months
  • Licence suspension up to 2 years or 6 demerit points
Second and subsequent (within 10 years of the first conviction)
  • $2,000 to $10,000 fine
  • Jail term of up to 6 months
  • Licence suspension up to 10 years

Speed limit tips

  • slow down when driving at night, especially on unlit and undivided roads
  • follow at a safe distance, at least two car lengths behind the vehicle in front of you
  • lower your speed in bad weather, heavy traffic, and in school and construction zones.
  • Be extra careful when driving through areas where people are working on or near the road
    • slow down when approaching work zones and be ready to stop
    • obey all signs and any workers who are directing traffic through the area
  • be patient if traffic is delayed
  • if your lane is blocked and no one is directing traffic, yield to the driver coming from the opposite direction - when the way is clear, move slowly and carefully around the obstacle.

There are times when you must yield the right-of-way to other drivers or pedestrians. This means you must let another person go first.

Remember: Signalling others does not give you the right-of-way. You must make sure the way is clear.

How and when to yield the right-of-way to other road users
Where What to do
At an intersection without signs or signals Yield to any vehicle approaching you from the right.
At an intersection with stop signs at all corners Yield to the first vehicle to come to a complete stop. If two vehicles stop at the same time, the vehicle on the left should yield to the vehicle on the right.
At any intersection where you want to turn left or right If you are turning left, you must wait for approaching traffic to pass or turn, and for pedestrians in your path to cross.
If you are turning right, you must wait for pedestrians to cross if they are in your path.
At a yield sign Slow down or stop if necessary to yield to traffic in the intersection or on the intersecting road.
When entering a road from a private road or driveway Yield to vehicles on the road and pedestrians on the sidewalk.
At marked pedestrian crosswalks Yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in the crosswalk
Buses re-entering traffic from a bus bay Yield to a bus that has indicated its intention to re-enter your lane from the bus bay

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