Rules of the Road
The Rules of the Road are laws and safe practices as well as the safe and efficient movement of vehicles, pedestrians and other road users. The rules cover such things as starting, signalling, turning, overtaking and passing, stopping and other actions of drivers and other road users. You will be required to demonstrate your knowledge of these rules and your ability to apply them properly before you can get a license.
Who has the right-of-way?
Right-of-way at 3-way and 4-way intersections with stop signs
When two or more vehicles enter such an intersection from different directions at approximately the same time, the vehicle on the left will yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right. It is a good practice to slow down to a speed that will permit you to stop if you see a vehicle coming from your right that is traveling at such a speed, or is so close, that a collision will occur if each continues on its respective way. Since most of these intersections are in residential areas, your view of approaching cars, cyclists, pedestrians and children will often be obscured. Under such conditions you should slow down to a speed that will permit you to have complete control of your vehicle. Remember that you do not automatically have the right-of-way by entering the intersection first.
The law says that before you enter a highway you must come to a complete stop and not proceed unless you can do so safely. The stop must be made before any marked or unmarked crosswalk, or where none exists, then before the travelled portion of the highway you are about to enter.
Right-of-way of a car turning left
When you turn left you must:
- be in the proper lane;
- give a visible signal of your intention to turn; and
- yield the right-of-way to any vehicle or pedestrian within, or close to the intersection that a collision could result.
Right-of-way at lanes, driveways and alleys
If you are driving in a rural area and you wish to enter or cross a highway from a private road, lane, driveway or building you must:
- stop and yield the right-of-way to traffic on the street or highway;
- check for pedestrians and other vehicles that may be approaching and yield the right-of-way to them; and
- do not proceed until you are sure it is safe to do so.
Always remember that the responsibility to avoid a collision rests with you.
Right-of-way at stop signs
Stop signs are placed at those intersections where extra hazards exist, such as heavy traffic or limited visibility. When you approach a stop sign always follow these rules:
- start slowing down soon enough so that you can stop smoothly;
- in a city or town, stop your vehicle before entering a crosswalk; or at a clearly marked stop line; or at a point nearest the intersecting roadways where pedestrians would normally cross.
- in rural areas stop your vehicle before the edge of the roadway you are about to enter; look carefully in both directions before starting to observe the speed and distance of approaching traffic; if the road is slippery you will need a larger gap in traffic before you can start up; look twice in both directions starting with the left (or closest lanes of traffic); and yield the right-of-way to any traffic that is close, or is traveling at such a speed, that there would be danger of a collision if you proceed.
Rolling a stop sign is illegal. Slowing rather than stopping for stop signs is a dangerous practice and one that will eventually lead to collisions.
Right-of-way of emergency vehicles
Whenever an emergency vehicle, ambulance, fire department vehicle or police car, sounding a siren, horn or warning signals, approaches form any direction, you must yield the right-of-way by immediately moving clear of an intersection; driving as closely as possible to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway; and stopping and remaining stopped until the emergency vehicle or vehicles have passed.
NOTE: On one-way streets, pull to the right or left.
Right-of-way of funeral procession
Drivers of vehicles in a funeral procession with lighted headlights are required to exercise care when coming to a red traffic light or stop sign. Only if a police officer is present and directs, then you may proceed through the red light or stop sign with caution. All approaching vehicles must reduce their speed to half the posted limit. At no time will a driver of a vehicle attempt to pass through a funeral procession from behind. Funeral vehicles on P.E.I. are equipped with purple flashing lights.
Right-of-way at yield signs
Yield signs provide a realistic and flexible means of controlling traffic at certain locations. When approaching a yield sign, you must slow down to speed that will make it possible for you to stop and yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and vehicles. If necessary, stop and yield the right-of-way to anyone on the roadway, then proceed with caution.
Farm machinery on Island roads
At harvest time, it is especially important for motorists to be watchful for farm machinery traveling our Island roads. These slow moving vehicles can be very large, and will have rear facing fluorescent yellow - orange triangles as identifiers.
Mud from farm vehicles can also create slippery conditions in areas where fields are being harvested.
Motorists are asked to slow down, watch out for traffic and road conditions, and to share the road safely with our neighbours in the agriculture industry.
Slow moving vehicles are required to pull over and let traffic go by if they are impeding or blocking the flow of traffic (required by law - HTA Section 177(1)).
Pedestrians' rights and duties at intersections controlled by traffic signals
Both drivers and pedestrians must obey the traffic signal that controls an intersection. Whenever a pedestrian enters the crosswalk with a "walk" or green signal light, the pedestrian has the right-of-way over all vehicles. A pedestrian must not leave the curb and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close that a driver cannot safely yield the right-of-way.
When the amber light or "wait" signal appears a pedestrian must not start to cross. If a pedestrian is in the intersection when the amber light or "wait" sign appears, he or she must proceed to the nearest sidewalk. A driver must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian and must not proceed until the pedestrian is safely across the street.
Pedestrians' rights and duties at flashing red lights
When approaching an intersection controlled by a flashing red light, a driver must come to a full stop and remain stopped until it is safe to proceed. Pedestrians may enter the roadway with caution, and have the right-of-way over vehicles.
When approaching an intersection controlled by a flashing amber light, a driver must enter with caution and yield the right-of-way to any pedestrians within the crosswalks. Pedestrians should remember that drivers are not required to come to a full stop for a flashing amber light; and before entering the roadway against an amber light, a pedestrian should exercise extra care and be on guard against drivers who may not be prepared to stop.
Pedestrians' rights and duties at intersections with no traffic signals
Pedestrians have the right-of-way within a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection with a stop sign or yield sign, and at an open intersection. Drivers must yield to a pedestrian. Pedestrians should always exercise caution when entering an intersection where drivers are not required to stop.
Vehicles stopped for pedestrians
One of the frequent causes of pedestrian collisions is one vehicle passing another that is stopped for pedestrians. The law requires that when a vehicle has stopped for a pedestrian, a driver approaching from behind must not pass the stopped vehicle. The driver of the first vehicle approaching the crosswalk should attempt to stop a sufficient distance away to give the other drivers a clear view of the crosswalk and the driver of the oncoming vehicle must also stop. Always use extreme caution before you attempt to pass a vehicle that is stopped or slowing down at an intersection. Remember that he or she has a clear view of the road ahead.
If you are about to pass a larger vehicle, always be aware of the pedestrian who may walk or run into your path. This is particularly true if you are driving in the lane next to the stopped vehicle. Slow down as you are about to pass. Never pass a vehicle stopped for a pedestrian.
Advice to pedestrians
- Always cross at intersections and keep within the crosswalk. Crossing between intersections is a hazardous practice. If you must cross between intersections, first yield the right-of-way to all vehicles.
- Never walk into the roadway from behind parked vehicles or from the rear of a stopped bus. If the driver cannot see you, he or she cannot avoid you.
- Always look for turning vehicles before trying to cross.
- Teach your children never to play on or near the roadway, and always use the crosswalks.
- At night wear white, light coloured or retro reflective material clothing. The driver will be able to see you at a greater distance.
- On the highways, always walk on the left, facing traffic, so that you can see approaching vehicles; whenever possible stay off the pavement.
- New crosswalks have sounds in addition to the light signalling pedestrians that it is safe to cross the road. This is for the visually impaired pedestrians.
Advice to drivers
- The law requires that you exercise care for the safety of pedestrians WHEREVER they may be crossing.
- In residential areas, slow down and be on alert for youngsters who may suddenly run into your path.
- If you see children, or a confused or incapacitated person, slow down and be prepared to stop.
- Always stop for pedestrians within crosswalks and never pass a vehicle that has stopped for a pedestrian.
- A blind or partially blind person carries a white cane to indicate that he or she cannot see. Whenever you see a pedestrian carrying a white cane, drive with caution and be prepared to stop. Often a blind person will raise his or her cane when they are uncertain of crossing the street in safety. That is your signal to STOP and allow him/her to go ahead. The same courtesy should be extended to persons led by a seeing-eye dog. Remember that their lives may depend on you.
Transporting an open alcoholic beverage container within a motor vehicle is illegal.
Auxiliary driving lights
- Two fog lights are permitted
- One spotlight is permitted.
- Maximum amount to show from front of vehicle is 10 m.
- Driving with parking lights on is prohibited.
Operation of a motor vehicle by a driver with bare feet is permitted.
Modification of original vehicle bumper height is illegal.
Use of a cellular telephone while driving is not permitted.
In Prince Edward Island, it is the law that young children must be placed in an approved child restraint system that is appropriate for them. See Child Safety Seats
Dimming of headlights
Required when approaching a vehicle within 500 ft. or following vehicle within 200 feet.
Application of after-market vehicle glass darkening material is illegal. Permitted on rear side windows and rear window, if you have two side mirrors.
Left turn, arm horizontal; right turn, arm upward; stop or slow, arm downward. Signalling distance: 30 m. before turning.
Hazard warning lights
Use by passenger cars or light trucks while moving on the highway is not permitted, unless there is a temporary hazard to vehicular traffic requiring extraordinary caution on the part of drivers of vehicles.
From sunset to sunrise, or when light conditions restrict visibility to 500 ft. or less. Driving with headlights on during all hours of the day is permitted (low beams only).
Wearing of radio headsets while operating a motor vehicle is not prohibited.
Left foot braking
Using the left foot to engage the brake pedal in a motor vehicle is permitted.
Left lane restriction
Left lanes on divided highways are not restricted to passing manoeuvres.
Left turn on red
Prohibited unless otherwise posted by sign.
No passing zone
Indicated by solid yellow line in centre of highway. Passing must be completed before entering the No Passing Zone.
Parking on highway
Passing on right
Permitted on one-way streets and on highways with two or more lanes.
Pedestrian has right-of-way within crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk at intersections.
Pickup truck passengers
Riding in the back of an unenclosed pickup truck is prohibited.
Radar detectors are prohibited in Prince Edward Island.
Right turn on red
Permitted unless otherwise posted.
Colour, black and yellow. Vehicles in both directions must stop for school bus loading or unloading or when flashing red signals are on.
The use of seat belts is mandatory for all drivers and vehicle passengers.
Speed checking devices
Radar used by Royal Canadian Mounted Police and municipal police. Warning signs posted on highways. Radar detectors or jamming devices are illegal.
Reasonable and proper within maximum limits: open highway, 80 km/h unless otherwise posted to a maximum of 90 km/h; residential 50 km/h; business districts 60 km/h; school zones, curves and intersections, as posted.
Permitted October 1 to May 31.
Registration of towed vehicle not required. Safety chains required. Tow bar required (maximum length 3.66 m or 12 ft.). Light hookup is required. Reciprocity not granted. Towing behind pickup camper/motor home permitted.
Vehicle towing devices
Personally operated devices (4-wheel dollies and lift arms) for towing a vehicle behind any vehicle other than a tow truck are permitted.
Not permitted without authorization.
For more information on the rules of the road, download the Highway Traffic Act.