Ask TC Road Safety

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?

Transport Canada is working with manufacturers to assure that in any event of low visibility, all of the vehicle's night-time lamps are activated automatically. In the meantime, we advise drivers to turn on their headlights when driving through a tunnel or in low visibility weather.

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.

Right Hand Drive

Are right hand drive vehicles legal in Canada? Could they be considered dangerous?

Federal laws do not ban the sale of new right-hand-drive vehicles in Canada. However, the manufacturer must certify that the vehicle complies with Canadian safety standards. Since these vehicles offer reduced visibility, both while passing and turning left at intersections, Transport Canada advises consumers to think carefully before buying one for personal use.

The Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) Right Hand Drive (RHD) Working Group includes members from all 13 provincial and territorial departments of transportation. The group is developing recommended best practices for jurisdictions to handle issues related to these vehicles. The information from this working group and further study by Transport Canada will be used to asses any change in the level of safety risk posed by these vehicles

Each province/territory has complete authority over public road use, driver licensing and the types of vehicles that can be operated on public roads.

Some jurisdictions have placed restrictions on the licensing of RHD vehicles:

  • Quebec will not license RHD vehicles that were not registered before April 29, 2009. This ban does not apply to vehicles aged 25 years or older.
  • In June 2010, PEI announced that it would develop similar legislation to limit the use of RHD vehicles.

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.