Author Topic: Australians driving in Toronto and Washington State  (Read 3586 times)

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Craftyone

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Australians driving in Toronto and Washington State
« on: July 17, 2011, 05:10:01 AM »
We're going to be going to Canada/America in just over 4 weeks and in two of the places (Toronto and Washington State, not driving in Seattle, going down to the coast) we've got hire cars. 
Are there any special rules for driving that I should know of?  Like only overtaking, indicating when two lanes merge, turning corners on red lights (we can't do that here).  The kms/mph doesn't worry me as it's just sticking to the number posted.

In Western Australia you can use any lane you like, undertake/overtake, merging is a race to see who can get in front  ::) and for some people indicating at any time is optional (maybe they don't want to wear out the bulb).  Hubby and I have both driven in the UK where people stick to the left lane unless overtaking, they don't undertake and they let you in.  And I've driven in London twice (not as scary as people say it is), though driving on the other side of the road is a bit freaky, but hubby is going to do the first bit of driving from Toronto airport to my friend's house near Hamilton, and I made sure to book a GPS system.

Thank you for any advice. 
Bev

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Re: Australians driving in Toronto and Washington State
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2011, 11:43:17 AM »
There are a number of road rules to follow in Toronto but since no one really follows them anyway...   :D

You are driving on the right side of the road here.  The rule on the highway, and to a lesser extent on the city streets, is to keep right except to pass.  You will find that almost everyone hogs the middle or left lane and doesn't stay to the right.  If you are going to keep to the posted limit on highways, you will definitely need to keep right.  Most people do 20 to 30 km/h over the posted 100 km/h limit on the major highways.  Not that I think it is a good idea but that's just how fast people drive.

I would actually recommend NOT driving in Toronto too much, if you can help it.  If where you want to go is within walking distance of the subway lines, it would be better to Ride the Rocket.  Not only is traffic a nightmare, construction makes it worse and parking is atrociously expensive.

Now, if you are driving because you are heading out of the city to Niagara Falls or something, that's different.
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The Legend of Daisy

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Re: Australians driving in Toronto and Washington State
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2011, 01:30:29 PM »
I find drivers in Toronto more...easygoing might be the word...than UK drivers. It's easier to merge on the highway, most people ease out of red lights rather than flooring it. OTOH, there may be rules about not passing on the passenger side (eg undertaking)  but no-one in TO follows that rule where everyone in the UK seems to. In short, yeah they're different, but as long as you follow the flow of traffic you'll probably be fine.

sparksals

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Re: Australians driving in Toronto and Washington State
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2011, 01:31:43 PM »
If you get the rental car in Canada, it will have KMs as the main mileage measurement with MPH in smaller numbers beside the equivalent.  You will have to pay attention to the KMs in Canada and then remember to switch to MPH once in the US.

On highways keep in the right lane except to pass.  Do not hog the left lane.  Many do and it is frustrating when left lane hoggers go below the speed limit.   

Do you have a GPS?  I suggest you take advantage of the rental agency's offer or bring one of your own.  YOu may have to get N. American maps for it, but it will be a life saver for you. 

Are you flying from Toronto to Seattle or vice versa? 

The Legend of Daisy

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Re: Australians driving in Toronto and Washington State
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2011, 01:37:06 PM »
On highways keep in the right lane except to pass.  Do not hog the left lane.  Many do and it is frustrating when left lane hoggers go below the speed limit.   

Rather than keep in the right lane, stay in the appropriate lane for the speed you're doing. It's impossible to drive that fast most of the time due to the traffic, but you want to keep up.

ETA - I'm one of the people driving in the left lane on the 401, but I'm also probably doing 140/150. Even in the middle lane it's 120/130. As a tourist, you should probably not do that.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2011, 01:39:16 PM by The Legend of Daisy »

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Re: Australians driving in Toronto and Washington State
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2011, 01:48:52 PM »
I'm a Queenslander about to start driving in Ontario, so I'll give you a quick rundown of the rules that confused me.

Right on red: unless there is a sign saying not to and there's no oncoming traffic, you can run a red light to turn right. You treat it like a stop sign, so you Stop, check the traffic, and then turn right

4-way/3-way stop: this one still confuses me, so someone else may have to explain it better, but it's pretty much first-come-first-served basis of going through an intersection. So if you're second in line and another car approaches from a different direction and they make it to the intersection first, they have right of way. That's true. you basically take turns going through. IF two cars get to the stop sign at the same time, the one on the right has the right of way

Most importantly....they drive on the other side of the road!!!! Remember: Driver in the middle, passenger in the gutter!

Hope that helps!

A blinking green light means "advanced green". It means you can turn left, because the light is still red for cars coming in the opposite direction. Just to make things confusing, sometimes a light will indicate this with a green arrow (which makes more sense to me), and sometimes it will be a blinking green light.

sparksals

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Re: Australians driving in Toronto and Washington State
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2011, 02:02:43 PM »
On highways keep in the right lane except to pass.  Do not hog the left lane.  Many do and it is frustrating when left lane hoggers go below the speed limit.   

Rather than keep in the right lane, stay in the appropriate lane for the speed you're doing. It's impossible to drive that fast most of the time due to the traffic, but you want to keep up.

ETA - I'm one of the people driving in the left lane on the 401, but I'm also probably doing 140/150. Even in the middle lane it's 120/130. As a tourist, you should probably not do that.

I'm talking about a rural two or three lane highway, not an urban freeway.    If there are only two lanes on a highway, then keeping in the right lane except to pass is the required thing to do.  Multi-lane freeways, I agree... go with the flow.

Bethczar

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Re: Australians driving in Toronto and Washington State
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2011, 02:06:41 PM »
I'm a Queenslander about to start driving in Ontario, so I'll give you a quick rundown of the rules that confused me.

Right on red: unless there is a sign saying not to and there's no oncoming traffic, you can run a red light to turn right. You treat it like a stop sign, so you Stop, check the traffic, and then turn right

4-way/3-way stop: this one still confuses me, so someone else may have to explain it better, but it's pretty much first-come-first-served basis of going through an intersection. So if you're second in line and another car approaches from a different direction and they make it to the intersection first, they have right of way. That's true. you basically take turns going through. IF two cars get to the stop sign at the same time, the one on the right has the right of way

Most importantly....they drive on the other side of the road!!!! Remember: Driver in the middle, passenger in the gutter!

Hope that helps!

A blinking green light means "advanced green". It means you can turn left, because the light is still red for cars coming in the opposite direction. Just to make things confusing, sometimes a light will indicate this with a green arrow (which makes more sense to me), and sometimes it will be a blinking green light.
Wow, I'm in the US & have never heard of a blinking green (just the arrow here). That would freak me out if I saw it.

JoanOfArc

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Re: Australians driving in Toronto and Washington State
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2011, 02:09:36 PM »
I'm a Queenslander about to start driving in Ontario, so I'll give you a quick rundown of the rules that confused me.

Right on red: unless there is a sign saying not to and there's no oncoming traffic, you can run a red light to turn right.


In Washington, you must stop at the red light, but then you may turn right while the light is still red if there is no oncoming traffic.  Treat it as a stop sign, come to a complete stop, then make your right on red. 
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Ruelz

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Re: Australians driving in Toronto and Washington State
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2011, 02:40:52 PM »
I'm a Queenslander about to start driving in Ontario, so I'll give you a quick rundown of the rules that confused me.

Right on red: unless there is a sign saying not to and there's no oncoming traffic, you can run a red light to turn right.

4-way/3-way stop: this one still confuses me, so someone else may have to explain it better, but it's pretty much first-come-first-served basis of going through an intersection. So if you're second in line and another car approaches from a different direction and they make it to the intersection first, they have right of way.

Most importantly....they drive on the other side of the road!!!! Remember: Driver in the middle, passenger in the gutter!

Hope that helps!

When turning R at a red light, you can't 'run it'.  You have to stop and make sure it's safe to procede.

At a 3 or 4 way stop, it is first come - first go.  If you both arrive at the same time the person to the right goes first.  But please, make eye-contact with the other driver to make sure you're both following the rules.

On highways, or urban highways, stay in the right-lane unless you're passing.  This is getting a lot of media attention lately and police are starting to ticket more.
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The Legend of Daisy

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Re: Australians driving in Toronto and Washington State
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2011, 03:00:57 PM »
I'm a Queenslander about to start driving in Ontario, so I'll give you a quick rundown of the rules that confused me.

Right on red: unless there is a sign saying not to and there's no oncoming traffic, you can run a red light to turn right. You treat it like a stop sign, so you Stop, check the traffic, and then turn right

4-way/3-way stop: this one still confuses me, so someone else may have to explain it better, but it's pretty much first-come-first-served basis of going through an intersection. So if you're second in line and another car approaches from a different direction and they make it to the intersection first, they have right of way. That's true. you basically take turns going through. IF two cars get to the stop sign at the same time, the one on the right has the right of way

Most importantly....they drive on the other side of the road!!!! Remember: Driver in the middle, passenger in the gutter!

Hope that helps!

A blinking green light means "advanced green". It means you can turn left, because the light is still red for cars coming in the opposite direction. Just to make things confusing, sometimes a light will indicate this with a green arrow (which makes more sense to me), and sometimes it will be a blinking green light.
Wow, I'm in the US & have never heard of a blinking green (just the arrow here). That would freak me out if I saw it.

I have a funny story about that. I went to college with a guy who moved from Belfast to Toronto. The first time he saw the blinking green he was at the front of the left turn lane. He said he saw it start blinking and he's looking in amazement thinking the light was broken while cars behind him are honking away.

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Re: Australians driving in Toronto and Washington State
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2011, 03:08:49 PM »
I think you'll be fine driving along the Washington coast.  The main things I'd keep an eye on are watching the suggested speed limits (on yellow signs, generally for curves or exit ramps; required speed limits are on the black & white signs).  Some of the coastal roads can be extremely windy and dangerous, and it's best to go slow that even a little too fast.

As for signaling, I turn mine on about 1/2 a block from a turn (maybe a little sooner if someone's tailgating me or if I know it's a tricky turn), and as soon as I know I want to change lanes in traffic.  Usually people will back off or speed up so I can get over.  My BF never signals until he already has a clear area to move into, which drive me nuts.  We both keep the signal on until we're fully in the next lane or around the corner.

Two lanes merging are indicated by a yellow sign. I'll post a picture when I get home.

I don't know  how Toronto compares to Vancouver, B.C., but I found the B.C. drivers to be pretty similar to Washington drivers.  Hopefully by the time you've driven in Toronto you'll have a good general feel of things.

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Re: Australians driving in Toronto and Washington State
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2011, 03:54:35 AM »
Quote
I answered "I don't know, but it's NOT an advanced Green!"

Isn't that what the orange light is for? Red is stop, green is go, and orange means "I'm changing to red in 7 seconds, so slow down and prepare to stop."

Or did the rules change and I not get the memo?
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Re: Australians driving in Toronto and Washington State
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2011, 02:25:43 PM »
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I answered "I don't know, but it's NOT an advanced Green!"

Isn't that what the orange light is for? Red is stop, green is go, and orange means "I'm changing to red in 7 seconds, so slow down and prepare to stop."

Or did the rules change and I not get the memo?

Advance green means you can turn left because the oncoming traffic still has a red light. That's not what the yellow light means.

In BC blinking green doesn't mean "This light will turn red in a few seconds", it means "this light doesn't turn red regularly, but it could turn red at any time (By which I mean it will turn yellow and then red). It's usually used at lights that only turn red if someone pushes the pedestrian crossing button, or outside the fire station, where they control the light. I still think it's dumb. I assume every light could change, I don't need it blinking at me to remind me!

Reuth

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Re: Australians driving in Toronto and Washington State
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2011, 02:33:21 PM »
Where I live in Massachusetts, we mostly have left-turn arrows. But there are some intersections where, if you have a green light, the oncoming traffic always has a red. But there is nothing to indicate this; no arrow, no blinking lights. You just have to know which ones operate this way.