Alberta: Driving Information

Driver Licensing

To drive in Alberta as a new resident, you may be required to take a drivers test, depending on where you Originate From. Your current drivers license will be valid for 3 months from your date of arrival. If you hold a valid international drivers license then you have 12 months or until it expires, which ever comes sooner.
Licensing is normally done at your local registry office and you will need to buy a permit prior to the written and road tests. You will need to provide two pieces of identification and your immigration status for the licensing process.
There are seven classes of license in Alberta; unless you intend to drive heavy goods or large passenger vehicles then the two to concentrate on are Classes 7 and 5. You can apply for a learners license from age 14 with parental consent.
Class 7 is your learner’s license, to obtain this you will need to take and pass a written test and a vision test. The questions for the written test are taken from the Basic License-Drivers Handbook which is available from the registry office or online. It is important to study this handbook prior to sitting the test as there are different rules of the road in Alberta that you will need to understand.
Once you have passed your class 7 license you are then able to take your road test. You must provide the vehicle for the road test and the examiner will check the vehicle over to ensure that is road worthy.
On passing the road test you will then be given your Class 5 drivers license, which entitles you to drive in Alberta and is renewable every 5 years.
I was really nervous about having to take a drivers test again, but it was easy compared to the road test I had taken 13 years earlier in England. My advice is to study the handbook well, get lot’s of practice driving with new rules and just go for it as soon as you feel confident. If you fail then you can take it again the next day! You must always carry your valid drivers license, valid insurance and vehicle registration when driving in Alberta. If you get stopped by the police and cannot produce it there is a hefty fine.
All traffic laws are strictly upheld by the police and they WILL fine you on the spot. For example, Calgary city fines were in excess of $25,000,000 for 2003. So, stop at stop signs and definitely stop and give way to pedestrians who have right of way.
Most road construction sites have mandatory 50 Km/hour speed limits with all traffic fines doubled when workers are present. These are heavily policed and may well have speed camera’s. Another recent addition to the traffic laws is that it is now mandatory to slow down to a maximum of 60 km/hour when you pass emergency workers (police/fire/ems) or tow trucks working by the side of the highways. Again any traffic fines double if you speed in these circumstances. These are important regulations as they are designed to protect road crews and emergency workers.
One of the major factors for driving is the road conditions during the winter so be sure to familiarise yourself with the section on Winter Driving

Vehicle Licensing
All motor vehicles and trailers in Alberta have to be licensed before they are allowed on the road. This is an annual fee and the renewal date is based on the first letter of your last name, therefore, this will always be the same month every year. A renewal form will be mailed to you and you can renew your registration at any registry office.
In Alberta, the license plates stay with the owner and are not transferable to any other person. If you take your own vehicle to Alberta it must registered within 3 months. If you are a first time vehicle owner in Alberta you will receive new plates upon registering your vehicle.
If you are considering buying a replacement vehicle take the time to read this great page on Buying A Vehicle
that could save you time, money and trouble!
Another vital service that is available if you are looking to buy a preowned vehicle is the vehicle history checking by Carproof. For a small fee they will provide a full report on any previous accidents, odometer level, the correct owner/registrant and if there are any other claims against the vehicle ownership. No one needs their vehicle to be repossessed because it has finance against it or find out it has been previously written off! For more information click on the logo -- remember peace of mind is priceless!

Vehicle Insurance
As it is illegal to operate an uninsured vehicle, all motor vehicles in Alberta must have a public liability insurance policy. You will need proof of your insurance when registering your vehicle.
We found auto insurance in Alberta to be quite expensive though the Provincial Government have now implemented Insurance Reforms directed at making premiums cheaper for good drivers. If you do have to make an “at fault” claim or persistently incur traffic violations you will be heavily penalised for future premiums.
Most insurance companies do not take your previous no claims discount and driving experience into consideration. We were also told that once we had our Alberta Driving License then the cost of insurance would go down, so it’s advisable to do that as soon as you can.
Make sure you get an up to date no claims certificate from your current insurance company before leaving as it may help. More information on Auto Insurance in Canada just follw the link!

General Information
Expect to pay a lower amount than most European and/or American prices for Gas (petrol). The price is always fluctuating but in summer 2006 is around C$1.12 per litre for regular (unleaded), about C$1.17 cents for mid grade and C$1.19 cents for the premium. Diesel is slowly becoming more popular and is about C$0.90 per litre. The price does fluctuate especially with the surge in world oil prices currently being experienced but the price does come down accordingly.
Porsche for $350/month -- NO MONEY DOWN!
There is a massive selection of vehicles to choose from -- the north american models are being edged out by the more reliable far eastern imports. There is definitely a trade off -- cheaper versus reliability and people are starting to move towards the more economical european style cars and away from the big gas guzzlers. Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV) are plentiful though seldom seem to be used off road!

The speed limits are set in Kilometres per hour and are generally quite conservative. In a residential area, close to schools or town centres the limit is 30Kph, elsewhere in the town/city limit its 50Kph. The Highways are 100 -- 110 Kph but will be slower near to housing or small villages. Again, these are strictly policed by radar in cars or stationary traps. Basically, by the time you see them you’re too late!
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Tips for New Drivers
A Teen’s Perspective
A licence to drive is a ticket to freedom for teens and for many of their parents. Sometimes in their excitement to gain this new found freedom, teenagers forget to keep safety and responsibility first. Peer pressure can lead to unsafe driving habits. A new driver may not have enough experience to respond well in an emergency.
Here are a few tips provided by young drivers that might help as you enter the world of driving.
* Arrive at school five to ten minutes early and leave five minutes late to avoid the mad dash into and out of the parking lots. Many collisions happen when teens are rushing around.
* Watch for kids getting on or off a school bus. If a school bus has stopped and the red lights are flashing -- Do Not Pass. This indicates that the bus is picking up or dropping off passengers.
* Go slow -- obey the speed limits. Speeding does not get you there quicker and it could get you or someone else killed.
* While you are learning and improving your skills, avoid turning left across busy intersections that do not have left turn traffic light controls. It takes a while to learn how to judge the speed of the oncoming traffic. Eventually this will be easier for you.
* Do not make assumptions about what other drivers are going to do. The only thing you can assume about another driver with a turn signal on is that the turn signal is on. The driver might not be turning.
* When there is an obstruction in your lane, wait for oncoming traffic to clear before you go around. Just because someone is blocking your lane it does not mean you have the right of way in the next or oncoming lane.
* Always wear your seat belt, and make sure all your passengers do as well.
* Never try to fit more people than you have seatbelts for in your car.
* Do not run red or yellow lights.
* Use turn signals to tell other drivers what you are doing. Turn your signal on in time to give the drivers behind time to react before you take the action.
* When the traffic light turns green, make sure vehicles and pedestrians clear the intersection before you go.
* Do not drive like you own the road -- drive like you own the car.
New Drivers in Bad Weather
Keeping control of a motor vehicle can be challenging in ideal conditions and even more difficult when conditions are less than ideal. Here are a few tips to help you if you must travel in bad weather conditions:
* Turn on your headlights whenever you drive, and especially in rain, fog, sleet, freezing rain, or snow. In fog, heavy rain or snow, do not use your high beam headlights as it only makes it harder to see.
* Double the space you normally leave between you and the vehicle in front of you. You will need more room to stop on slippery roads than when the pavement is dry.
* Brake gently.
Braking in bad weather can be tricky. When braking on wet roads:
* If you have ABS (anti-lock) brakes do not pump the brakes, instead maintain steady pressure.
* If you skid with non-ABS brakes ease off the brakes to unlock the wheels, then brake again gently without locking the wheels.

Tips for Parents of Teen Drivers
Your teenagers have been begging you for months to allow them to get their driver’s licence. They have taken a driver training course, had plenty of practice, and say they are ready. You know your teenager is a responsible, safety conscious person, and can handle the responsibility of driving a motor vehicle.
Still, your head tells you that attitudes can change when your teenager is confronted with one of the biggest teen challenges -- peer pressure.
Teen attitudes can change rapidly from the moment a teen leaves the house. Some teens rebel against adult standards and regulations. Also, peer pressure, at that moment, can have a much greater influence on decision-making than advice from an adult.
Teens are sometimes slower to sense danger. Who has not seen a teen in action and said, “they have no fear of danger”? While you can not control your teenager when he or she leaves the house, there are some things you can do to help ensure their safe return:
1. Make sure your teen gets as much supervised driving time as possible. Even after getting their licence, supervised driving time will help to reinforce safe and responsible driving habits.
2. Restrict driving to a limited number of hours per week for the first few months according to ‘time of day’ and some potentially risky situations.
3. Realize that your teen may act differently driving with you than with their friends. Make sure he or she has had plenty of training before allowing your teen to drive their friends.
4. Because your teenager is learning, and driving can be more dangerous after dark, restrict their time behind the wheel to daylight hours.
5. Start with using approved safety restraint devices, such as seat belts and car seats, on your children every time he or she travels in a vehicle. Set the example yourself by making ‘buckling up’ a habit.
6. Choose safe cars for your teens. Muscle cars and teens can be a deadly combination.
7. Set a zero tolerance policy for car use and alcohol use.
Did you know? -- In Alberta, a parent or guardian, of a person 17 years of age or younger, must give written consent to allow their teen to get a driver’s licence. You can revoke that permission at anytime, and your teen’s operator’s licence will be cancelled?