Saturday, January 3, 2009

Taking to Québec's Roads #2

Acting on what I had learned just before Christmas, I visited AAA today to pick up my international driving permit. I had expected a smooth process as I already had passport photos, the fee for two applications and had previewed the application online. So I was quite surprised by the quizzical stare the clerk gave me when I told her that our destination is Canada.

When she got to speaking again (she had clearly had a tough day) she said that AAA doesn't have any booklets specifically for Canada and that she was fairly certain that was because Americans don't need an IDP there. To make me feel better, she helpfully called to another office to verify that and suggested that I could check with the consulate if I want to be sure.

Taking that tip (and a fistful of free maps and tour books), I went home and found the U.S. embassy's page of advice for drivers in Canada which says that U.S. driver's licenses are valid in Canada. There was no qualification or anything I could find referring to the six month limit I found on the SAAQ website. In the interest of just moving on to my other preparations, I suppose I'm willing to chalk this one up to American exceptionalism.

Oh! And apparently we're also exceptional drivers compared to our northern neighbors, because that same page spills a great deal of pixels warning about Canadian drivers. I must admit that in my own travels I have noticed that the only driving worse than that over NH's southern border is over its northern one ;-).

The embassy warns drivers:
  • Rapid lane-changes without signaling, and tailgating are common
  • Motorists running red lights is a serious concern throughout Canada; hesitate before proceeding on green
Other sunny warnings to drivers include:
  • Leaving cars unlocked or leaving valuables in view in Montréal is a fine-able offense due to the high incidence of smash-and-grab thefts
  • Auto theft in Montréal, including theft of motor homes and recreational vehicles, may occur in patrolled and overtly secure parking lots and decks
And I still have to explain to people why I'm moving to Québec City instead of Montréal.

1 comment:

  1. The driving advisory seems to apply to any major north-american cities, Montreal being perhaps *slightly* worse.

    This "no right turn on a red light" rule is the only major difference IMO.


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