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driving concerns

I’m a runner, and I live in a rural area with no sidewalks. I was always taught to walk or run on the left side of the road, so we can see cars coming. A friend who runs with me thinks that’s ridiculous. Am I right about running on the left? – Kris, Kelowna, B.C.

When there’s no sidewalk, you’re right to stay to the left.

It’s not just a good idea – it’s required by law everywhere in Canada.

Section 182 of British Columbia’s Motor Vehicle Act states, “If there is no sidewalk, a pedestrian walking along or on a highway must walk only on the extreme left side of the roadway or the shoulder of the highway, facing traffic approaching from the opposite direction.” If there’s a sidewalk that’s “reasonably passable,” you have to use it.

But if there isn’t and you have to walk or run on the road, you’re supposed to be on the left side facing oncoming traffic. In B.C., it’s a $109 fine.

“It’s not one of our most heavily-enforced infractions,” said Sergeant Lorne Lecker of RCMP traffic services. “But if you’re making a hazard of yourself and cars are concerned and calling it in, it may be something we’ll have to look at.”

Every other province and territory has a similar rule.

For instance, Ontario’s law says to face oncoming traffic and walk as close to the left edge as possible. Quebec’s law is similar – it says to keep to the left if you can do it safely. But it has an exception that says you can walk on the right if it’s the only side with lights or if the shoulder is wider.

A few provinces, including Manitoba, PEI and Newfoundland, also ban walking more than two abreast on a road.

Plus, there are certain roads where pedestrians aren’t allowed at all, including most parts of 400-series highways in Ontario and expressways in Quebec.

See and be seen

So why face traffic? So you can see oncoming cars and have a better chance of getting out of the way if you need to. Also, they might have a better chance of seeing you.

“Oncoming drivers don’t necessarily expect to see pedestrians walking on roads where there are no sidewalks,” said Lewis Smith, manager of national projects with the Canada Safety Council. “Aside from walking on the left side of the road and facing traffic, another safety precaution a pedestrian can take is making sure they’re visible.”

If you’re walking or running on a road, wear bright clothing or reflective tape, Mr. Smith says. While drivers should be looking out for pedestrians, don’t count on them seeing you.

“It can also help for the pedestrian’s behaviour to be predictable and for their path to be obvious,” Mr. Smith said. “A pedestrian walking down the street with their focus on their phone, for instance, may walk in less of a straight line and inadvertently stray into the road.”

Will I face an Ontario fine for a photo-radar ticket in Saskatchewan?

I’m the registered owner of an Ontario-plated vehicle that was photographed by a photo-radar device while speeding in a work zone along Highway 1 in Saskatchewan. Does Ontario just register the offence to the registered owner and apply Ontario fines for the offence? – Chris, Oakville, Ont.

There’s no double-dipping when it comes to traffic tickets.

You face fines in the province where you get a ticket, but you won’t have to pay another fine for that same ticket in the province where you live.

So, if you were caught going 100 kilometres an hour in a 60 km/h construction zone in Saskatchewan, you’ll face a hefty $1,008 fine, but you won’t have to pay an Ontario fine on top of it.

“Ontario may apply demerit points depending on the offence but would not apply a fine,” Michael Fenn, Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) spokesman, said in an e-mail. “Ontario and other provinces, such as Quebec, have a conviction-exchange agreement where select offences, such as speeding, are sent back to the driver’s home jurisdiction.”

It’s true that most provinces share demerits for some offences, but that doesn’t apply to photo enforcement tickets.

Since photo radar and red-light-camera tickets go to the registered owner of the car, they don’t come with demerits or go on your driving record anywhere in Canada.

By the way, about 57 per cent of photo-radar violations in Moose Jaw, which the Trans-Canada runs through, have been associated with out-of-province vehicles this year, Saskatchewan Government Insurance says.

If you don’t pay an out-of-province fine, it could be taken out of your federal tax refund or GST payments.

Have a driving question? Send it to Canada’s a big place, so let us know where you are so we can find the answer for your city and province.

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