Q&A - Drivers Visiting BC From Other Countries

New BC LogoI had the pleasure of visiting British Columbia in late January to visit my son who was on a school exchange in Northern BC.

As I have been a Road safety consultant and designer of road safety campaigns I was wondering if there are any statistics available on Tourist Accidents in the BC area and are there resources available to address this at all as I would be interested in gathering this information.

I arrived, collected a rental car and was basically "let loose" on BC roads. Challenges were driving on the opposite side of the road, in winter weather road conditions that were so absolutely different to what we deal with here in New Zealand. I had done some online searching to look at road rules and was unable to find so drove not knowing what these were (free turning, whether i would need to carry chains etc) and realising after some time that indicator lights are different in Canada than they are here in NZ on vehicles (we have three different colour lights).

Also the rental car company I think perhaps should have checked with me as to when I flew in to address whether it was likely that I would be affected by jet lag thus the potential of fatigue while driving ( my area of expertise so was in fact intelligent enough to allow myself 48 hours of rest before undertaking any driving).

Fortunately after 3 weeks of driving I returned the vehicle unscathed but I really was concerned that as a visitor I perhaps should have been perhaps at the time of picking up a rental car given information that would make me safer on BC roads. I would welcome your feedback on this matter.


BC Welcomes Drivers from Reciprocal Jurisdictions

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) is the keeper of collision statistics for the Province of British Columbia. As I respond to this post, they are significantly behind in posting current collision information to the internet and respond with "real soon now" when asked. They don't publish distinctions beween drivers from out of country or even out of province in the reports, but could supply that information if you asked them to.

ICBC is also the regulating body for driver licensing in the province. A complete set of manuals are available on their web site to help you understand the differences between your home country and driving in BC.

I tried searching both "BC driving manual" and "British Columbia driving manual" on Google. In both cases the first link was the correct one. However, I'm glad you found this site and asked your questions!

Car rental companies are only interested in whether you hold a valid drivers license or not along with meeting the terms of their rental contract. I would hope that they check to see that the country of the license holder is a recognized reciprocal jurisdiction, but it would not surprise me if they don't. They likely expect you to be a responsible person and have already checked to see that you are capable of driving safely in the new situation.


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