Visiting Alberta? Compare a Few BC and Alberta Driving Rules Before You Go


Visiting Our Friendly Canadian Neighbour?

Check out some of the differences between BC and Alberta driving laws before you go.

Non-Alberta license for tourists and visitors

A person visiting Alberta who is authorized to drive a motor vehicle of a particular class or type under a valid licence or permit issued outside Alberta is not required to hold a current and valid operator’s licence if the person drives the same type or class of motor vehicle while visiting in Alberta.

You can drive in Alberta with your BC license; just follow all of the restrictions on your license just as you would if you were driving in BC (Display ‘N’ or ‘L’ sign, etc.)

Here are a few things you should know

Turning Right on Red Light

Red light

This is the same in both provinces, but I thought I’d throw it in here in case you were wondering.

As usual, these turns are optional, and permitted, if/when safe, after stopping, and yielding.

Of course, in Alberta you will be seeing the very intriguing ‘sideways’ traffic light.

Do not be alarmed if you see a double red sideways traffic light. This has the exact same meaning as the single red sideways traffic light.  😆  😆  😎  😎  😛

Turning Left on  Red Light

In beautiful British Columba, these Turns are permitted after stopping and yielding,  if and when safe, from a:

two-way street onto a one-way street  

one-way street onto a one-way street

alberta flag

In Wild Rose Country, The only left turn on red light permitted is:

onto a one-way street from a one-way street,

if and when safe, after stopping and yielding

Flashing Green Light

Flashing green light

As we know in BC, this is a “Pedestrian-controlled traffic light;”

Other than being controlled by pedestrians – and of course drivers who get out of the car to press the button  🙄  (don’t get me started)– the same rules apply as they do for solid green vertical traffic lights;

i.e. generally speaking, left turns must yield to oncoming traffic, right turns must yield to pedestrians

alberta flag

In beautiful Alberta, Drivers facing a flashing green traffic control light are:

permitted to go through, turn left or turn right without stopping

Opposing traffic will be facing a red light

School Zones

school zone

British Columbia School Zone hours are on school days

Between 8 am and 5 pm

Unless otherwise posted

alberta flag

Alberta School Zone times – school days only -are :

• 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

• 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

• 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

*Unless otherwise posted

 Playground Zones

Playground zone

In BC,

Playground restrictions are in effect every day of the year from

dawn until dusk  

alberta flag

In Alberta,

Playground restrictions are in effect every day of the year  from

8:30 a.m. to one hour after sunset.

Solid Yellow Lines

In BC,

Passing is not permitted over solid double lines;

but is permitted over a single solid line at the drivers’ discretion

alberta flag

In Alberta,

Solid yellow lines, single or double, indicate that passing is not permitted.

 Uncontrolled Intersections

In BC,

If another vehicle has arrived at the intersection before you, slow down and yield. If two vehicles arrive at the same time, the vehicle on the left must yield to the vehicle on the right.

alberta flag

In Alberta,

At these intersections, you must yield the right-of-way to a vehicle on your right.

A flashing green light inside a vehicle means there is a volunteer firefighter on the way to an emergency:
Flashing Green Light inside a Vehicle

Distracted Driving Laws are In Full Effect

Distracted Driving Law in Effect

Effective January 1, 2016 the penalty for distracted driving in Alberta is a $287 fine and three demerit points.

The law applies to all motor vehicles as defined by the Traffic Safety Act. It restricts drivers from:

  • using hand-held cell phones
  • texting or e-mailing (even when stopped at red lights)
  • using electronic devices like laptop computers, video games, cameras, video entertainment displays and programming portable audio players (e.g., MP3 players)
  • entering information on GPS units
  • reading printed materials in the vehicle
  • writing, printing or sketching
  • personal grooming (brushing and flossing teeth, putting on makeup, curling hair, clipping nails or shaving)

The law applies to all roads in Alberta.

Calgary City Rush Hour Drive

Tinted Windows in BC & Alberta

There’s no tinted love in five provinces: In British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, it’s illegal to have any tint at all on driver and passenger side windows.

“The front side windows on a vehicle are designed to shatter into small pieces the size of a fingernail upon impact,” says Alberta Transportation spokesman Bob McManus. “If you apply film over top of that glass it will not shatter correctly and will laminate into large sharp projectiles that can injure someone in the event of a collision.”

Globe & Mail

Left Turns at Red Lights in British Columbia


Alberta Distracted Driving Legislation

Alberta Drivers Guide


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