Ask TC Motor Vehicle Safety

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Federal regulations set out the safety performance requirements for new motor vehicles when they are manufactured. They do not address the licensing or use of aftermarket modifications.

Provincial and territorial governments regulate and enforce the licensing, operation, modification and maintenance of all vehicles using public roads in their jurisdictions.

Do you have a question or suggestion about road safety in Canada? Send us an email or call 1-800-333-0371.

Click on the questions below to find the answers.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

Is the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) required on new vehicles sold in Canada?

The Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) is not a manufacturing requirement on new vehicles sold in Canada, or on imported vehicles. Furthermore, there is no federal regulation that prohibits disabling the TPMS system on vehicles, as vehicle use falls under provincial and territorial jurisdictions.

While the TPMS is not a requirement in Canada, the U.S. Federal Regulations require that all new light vehicles sold in the U.S. since September 2007 be equipped with a TPMS. Some manufacturers do offer TPMS on vehicles sold in Canada as either standard or optional equipment. To find out whether the TPMS as equipped conforms to U.S. federal standards or the manufacturer’s own standards, please refer to the owner’s manual or contact the dealership.

Based on our research and collision investigation programs, Transport Canada has not identified a pattern of motor vehicle collisions caused conclusively by tire failure in Canada. However, we continue to monitor the effectiveness of TPMS to determine if they provide any potential safety benefits to Canadians and will take action as required. The Motor Vehicle Safety Act does not provide Transport Canada the authority to mandate TPMS on the basis of fuel economy benefits. Fuel economy falls under the jurisdiction of other entities.

Transport Canada recommends that tires be inspected and serviced regularly, and be inflated to the correct pressure at all times to increase safety. For optimal vehicle handling and to prevent tire failure, tire pressure and tire wear should be checked on a monthly basis, even on TPMS-equipped vehicles. Proper tire maintenance also improves fuel economy, extends tire life, and reduces exhaust emissions that contribute to environmental and health problems.

Some of the typical considerations surrounding TPMS are listed in the web-page referenced below.

Information on proper tire maintenance can be found at:

Transport Canada encourages drivers to report any problems pertaining to TPMS-equipped vehicles by contacting our Recalls and Defects hotline at 1-800-333-0510 or by submitting a report on-line at:

Is TPMS required on winter or replacement tires?

Provincial and territorial governments are responsible for establishing the regulations and enforcement strategies that apply to road use, vehicle and driver licensing, and also the operation, modification, and maintenance of vehicles. Therefore, the use and maintenance of TPMS would fall under their jurisdiction, the same as any mandatory use of winter tires. Manufacturers may also establish policies requiring the presence of TPMS sensors on wheels for vehicles equipped with such systems.

What can I do about nuisance problems with the TPMS?

Consumer complaints regarding reliability and seasonal issues concerning TPMS should be directed to the vehicle manufacturer or dealer. You may also wish to contact your provincial or territorial government’s office of consumer protection.

Vehicle Lighting and Mirrors

Why do some newer headlights seem so bright? Do aftermarket Xenon headlights produce more glare for oncoming drivers?

Headlamps using new technologies can light the road further ahead of the vehicle. These lamps meet the same brightness and antiglare standards as any past headlamp. Levels of glare light are kept to the same values that were set in the late 1970s. However, these newer lamps may create more discomfort glare than older ones when they are not properly aimed.

Keeping the headlamp lens clean is also very important. Dust and road grime on the lens will scatter the light, create glare and reduce the forward lighting you need.

Having a clean windshield inside and out will also help reduce unwanted glare from oncoming vehicles. Dust, moisture and stone chips will scatter light, create veiling glare and obscure the forward vision of the driver.

Transport Canada is working with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Society of Automotive Engineers to set common standards for motor vehicle lighting throughout North America. Canada under the United Nations, is leading an international group of experts on motor vehicle lighting to create international safety regulations.

The highway traffic acts in each province/territory set out legal duties for motor vehicle owners and drivers. Provincial/territorial governments regulate and enforce:

  • maintenance (this includes aiming and cleaning of headlights), and operation of motor vehicle lighting equipment; and
  • installation of aftermarket equipment; such as:
    • headlamp replacement kits or light sources used to replace common halogen bulbs,
    • front fog lamps
    • auxiliary headlamps and other lighting equipment

I find that amber turn signals are more visible than red ones. Why aren't they standard on all vehicles sold in Canada?

An amber-only rear turn signal standard would force manufacturers to design different vehicles for Canada than for the rest of North America. This would raise vehicle costs in Canada without providing a clear benefit to road safety.

However, Transport Canada is working with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Society of Automotive Engineers to set common standards for motor vehicle lighting throughout North America.

I saw a vehicle the other day without any headlights on. I thought daytime running lights were mandatory on all vehicles.

You are right. Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Act (MVSA) and its Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (MVSRs) require that all new vehicles sold in (or imported into) Canada and built after December 1, 1989, be fitted with daytime running lights (DRLs) that go on when you start the vehicle.

Vehicles built after December 1, 1989, that operate without DRLs are either:

  • United States licensed whose drivers are visiting Canada
  • have a broken or disconnected DRL function; or
  • were imported when they were more than 15 years old, (the federal government does not have jurisdiction over these)

Provincial/territorial governments have complete authority over the road system and its use, including the licensing, operation and maintenance of vehicles.

With a few exceptions, the Government of Nova Scotia requires the use of DRLs or low-beam headlamps during the daytime hours. This law applies to all road users, including visitors.

Nova Scotia is the first Canadian province to pass such a law. Transport Canada is encouraging other provinces to follow Nova Scotia’s example.

I was driving in the fog and almost rear-ended a vehicle that appeared to have no tail lights. As the vehicle turned the corner, I noticed that its daytime running lights were on. Shouldn't tail lights automatically light up with the daytime running lights?

The recent phenomenon of full time dashboard illumination may give false impression to the driver that all marking lamps are also activated and this leads to having number of vehicles driving at dusk and into the night or into a bad weather without night-time lamps (full headlamp, tail lamp and side marker lamps) illuminated.

Transport Canada is currently reviewing the lighting standard and is addressing the issue of non-illuminated night-lights under dark lighting conditions as part of that process. This should address concern regarding the activation of headlamps tail and other vehicle marking lamps at dusk or at night.

Regarding tail lamps not being illuminated under bad weather conditions, the department works closely with many international safety partners, including the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Society of Automotive Engineers and the United Nations World Forum for the Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, to develop vehicle safety standards and regulations. Timely illumination of all lighting and light-signalling devices is part of this work.

Canadian and United Nations regulations currently require tail lamps and marking lamps to be activated when fog lamps are switched on. However, no regulation (national or international) addresses the automatic illumination of tail and other marking lamps in relation to bad weather conditions. Some manufacturers voluntarily install devices that activate all night-time vehicle lamps when the windshield wipers are activated. Should Transport Canada’s collaborative work demonstrate that there are reliable systems that improve vehicle conspicuity under bad weather conditions, the department will certainly consider introducing a corresponding requirement.

In the meantime we have to rely on provincial/territorial enforcement of their respective highway traffic laws that require headlamps and exterior marker lamps (side marker lamps and tail lamps) to be used in darkness, inclement weather, and tunnels. Provincial/territorial regulation and subsequent police enforcement should assure the use of all lamps needed for specific road conditions. For example Ontario Highway Traffic Act, Section 62(1) requires the use of all marking lamps "when [the vehicle is travelling] on the highway at any time from one-half hour before sunset to one-half hour after sunrise and at any other time when, due to insufficient light or unfavourable atmospheric conditions, persons and vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of 150 meters or less".

Drivers are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the operation of their vehicles, including the lighting system, and with provincial/territorial traffic laws. Operator's manuals of every vehicle explain the lights switch functions, and whether the tail lamps switch on with the DRL. Darkness and reduced visibility conditions should be sufficient to prompt drivers to switch on their lamps, in accordance with provincial traffic laws.

In the interim, Transport Canada is helping to raise public awareness with regard to the proper illumination of motor vehicle lamps. The department has recently added an information page to its website to provide basic information about motor vehicle lighting. This page explains the workings of the master light switch and the functions of various vehicle lights, drawing specific attention to when and what lamps are activated. For your ease of reference, the page can be found at

Why do passenger side mirrors make objects appear further away than they really are? Why can't the passenger side mirror be the same as the driver's side?

The passenger side mirror is convex to offer the driver a broader field of vision. These convex mirrors make a vehicle’s blind spot as small as possible, and make lane changes safer.

CMVSS 111 specifies a minimum and maximum radius for convex mirrors. This ensures that the reflected objects appear large enough to help drivers make safe distance judgements.

While objects viewed in the right hand convex mirror appear smaller, Transport Canada believes that it is more important to minimize the blind spot and allow drivers to identify the presence of nearby vehicles in the lane beside them.

School Bus Safety

Why don't school buses have seat belts?

School buses in Canada and the United States have a very good safety record. They are proven to be the safest form of transportation for school children. This is because school buses:

  • are large and highly visible
  • boast a safety feature known as compartmentalization, which protects riders without buckling up. This protection is made possible by energy-absorbent materials and spacing the seats closely together.
  • have other safety features such as strong body joints; secure windows; emergency exits; and conspicuity enhancements.

While seatbelts can provide excellent protection when correctly fitted and buckled, we know that achieving this in a school bus is a challenge. We also know that using a seatbelt incorrectly can increase the risk of injury to a child and other school bus riders.

Although Transport Canada does not require seat belts on school buses, we are reviewing existing regulations.

Transport Canada reviews literature, attends industry meetings and conducts research in its constant efforts to assess school bus safety. To learn more, please consult our latest public research reports online.

Tests show that children under 30kg (65lbs) riding in a school bus would benefit from using child car seats if involved in a collision. That is why an amendment published in the Part II of the Canada Gazette on May 31, 2006, required all newly built school buses to be equipped with a minimum amount of child-restraint anchors for car seats as of April 1, 2007.

While Transport Canada regulates new equipment, the use of seat belts or car seats in school buses falls under provincial/territorial jurisdiction.

General Concerns

With quiet hybrid and electric vehicles becoming more popular, I worry that visually impaired people may not be able to hear them coming. Are you looking into this?

Yes. Transport Canada and hybrid and electric vehicle manufacturers are aware of this concern. The Association of International Automobile Manufacturers and the Society of Automotive Engineers International are also studying the issue. The US government and the UN Working Group on Noise are developing guidelines for installing sound generating features on quiet vehicles moving at low speeds. Vehicle manufacturers are following this process and are participating in the development of the guidelines.

The challenge is to find a solution that will keep the road safe for all users without adding to noise pollution.

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