A quick guide to driving regulations in Manitoba

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Getting around Manitoba may be one of your top concerns in your first few days. Here is a quick guide if it’s your first time to drive in the province:

General driving regulations

You must be at least 16 years old and have a valid driver’s licence to drive in Manitoba. If you have a valid driver’s licence from your home country, you may use it for three months, after which you will need to switch to a Manitoba licence. To get a licence, you will need to take and pass the knowledge and road tests. But there are exceptions – read: special cases and moving from a reciprocal country.

Driving rules in MB may be different from other countries as well as other provinces in Canada. Read and understand the Manitoba Public Insurance’s Driver’s Handbook to know the rules of the road.

Also see relevant laws:
The Driver and Vehicles Act
The Highway Traffic Act

Speed limits

Always check speed limit signs on Manitoba highways and within town and city limits. Maximum speeds on highways are usually 100 km/hour with city speed limits at around 50 km/hr, unless otherwise posted.

School zone speed limits are enforced during the school year. Usually, motorists observe a 30 km/hr speed limit. Designated zones around most schools will have signs that show the maximum speed; hours, days or months the limit is in effect; and area/s where it is enforced. You will see these warning signs before approaching a reduced-speed school zone.

Another area that may have lower speed limits are construction zones. If you are driving through one, be mindful of warning signs and slow down for the safety of workers.

Passenger and public safety

Number of passengers allowed in a vehicle
Vehicles can carry no more passengers than the number of seats for which there are seat belts. Drivers will not be allowed to drive if:

  • passengers are not in the proper seating position
  • more than one passenger occupies a single seating position
  • passengers share a seatbelt
  • there are more passengers in the vehicle than there are seats with seat belts

Seat belts and child car seats
Drivers and passengers must wear seatbelts. A fine of $300 and two demerits are imposed for failing to comply (Seatbelt penalties and fines, Manitoba Public Insurance). Moreover, the driver is fined an additional $299.65 for each passenger under 18 years old not wearing a seatbelt (2019).

The following video shows how a properly fastened seatbelt protects your body in the event of a collision:

60 second driver- seatbelts MBPublicInsurance

Aside from seatbelts, it is required by law that infants and children have child car seats appropriate to their age, weight and height (for more information, read: Baby on board: What to know about child car seat regulation in Manitoba). Children are required to have booster seats up to age nine or until they are at least 145 cm (4’9”) tall, 36 kg (80 lbs).

Drinking and driving
There are strict laws prohibiting drinking and driving in Manitoba. This covers all motor vehicles, including boats, aircraft, special mobile machines, tractors and other agricultural equipment. Drivers driving while impaired can be charged penalties, suspensions and even criminal offence.

Be careful about having alcoholic drinks in the car. Do not store open liquor (anything with 1% alcohol or more) near the driver’s seat while driving. To be on the safe side and avoid fines, store any opened or unopened liquor in the trunk of your car or the storage area farthest to the driver’s seat when transporting them.

Distracted driving
Distracted driving has become a major concern, just like impaired driving. Distracted driving accidents have steadily increased in the past years, mainly caused by texting while driving. In fact, according to MPI, “one in three deaths on Manitoba roads involves a distracted driver”.

With the passing of The Drivers and Vehicles Amendment and Highway Traffic Amendment Act (Bill 17), stricter laws on driving while using any hand-operated electronic device (and other common distractions) were implemented. As of August 2018, drivers caught texting while driving “receive a three-day licence suspension for the first offence and a seven-day suspension for subsequent offences. Upon conviction, drivers will also receive a $672 fine and five demerits” (Focus on the road, MPI).

Other relevant acts

  • Insurance – Insurance is mandatory in Manitoba. It is available from the Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) and Autopac brokers around the province.
  • Passing emergency vehicles – Stay alert when you hear emergency vehicle sirens. You are required to slow down and stay cautious. You are allowed to pass stopped emergency vehicles with their lights activated only when safe to do so. Move out of the lane the emergency vehicle is stopped in, and in multi-lane highways, move into a lane that is not adjacent to the stopped vehicle.
  • Smoking ban in cars with children – Smoking (all tobacco products) in cars where there is a child under 16 years old is prohibited.
  • Cycling in MB – Cyclists must follow road signs and traffic rules just like motorists. For more cycling rules in Manitoba, read Bike safety for newcomers.

Sources: Driving in Manitoba, Manitoba Residents Portal; New to Manitoba, Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI); Manitoba Infrastructure guide for establishing reduced-speed school zones, Manitoba.gov; Focus on the road, Manitoba Public Insurance; and Driver’s Handbook, MPI. Accessed September 5, 2019.

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Community Resources

Driver Education Classes at the Immigrant Centre are offered for free to newcomers preparing for the Class 5 knowledge (written) test.

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