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Driving tips

You’ve learned to drive…now learn to stop

The 2-second rule

One of the most important skills you need to drive safely is the ability to stop. This means giving yourself enough time and space to react to changes on the road ahead of you.

The Ontario Driver’s Handbook recommends you follow the 2-second rule to ensure you have enough time to react and stop in case of a hazard ahead.

  1. Pick a stationary object on the roadside (like a sign or tree)

  2. Watch when the car in front of you passes it

  3. Count at least "one thousand and one, one thousand and two" before you pass the same object.

This is the minimum following distance in ideal conditions. You’ll need extra space in special cases like bad weather, if you’re following a motorbike, or if you’re carrying a heavy load.

TIP: Though the 2-second rule is considered a recommendation, you can get up to 4 demerit points and a fine of $110-$500 if police think you are following another car “more closely than is reasonable.”

Give others space

At intersections:

Come to a complete stop at intersections where a stop sign is displayed. ‘Rolling stops’ are illegal and could get you 3 demerit points and a fine.

At railway crossings:

If a train is coming, stop at least five metres away from the gate. Do not cross the track until you are sure the train or trains have passed.

At school crossings:

If a school crossing guard displays a sign asking you to stop, guess what? You stop. Wait until the roadway is completely clear before you move forward. Drivers who don’t follow these rules can be fined $150-$500 and get 3 demerit points.

For school buses:

You need to be extra careful around Ontario’s big yellow school buses.

If a school bus’s red lights are flashing or the ‘STOP’ arm is out, and there’s no divider on the road, you have to stop for the bus even if you’re approaching from the other side of the road.

Regardless of whether or not there is a divider, if you’re coming up behind the bus, stop at least 20 metres away.

If you don’t stop for a bus when the lights are flashing, you could be fined $400-$2,000 and get 6 demerit points for a first offence. If it happens again within five years, you could be sent to jail for up to 6 months.

At pedestrian cross walks:

You must yield right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks. When people are crossing, you must not pass any vehicle within 30 metres of a crosswalk. (If you’re behind a car, stay behind the car until you have moved past the crosswalk.)


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Farida started writing for ingenie in 2015. She got her Ontario licence in 2014 and her first car was a manual 2003 VW Jetta GLS 1.8T. Follow her on Twitter.