The worst provinces to speed

Speeding is a terrible sin. A crime against humanity, even. Given the tremendous trust our government places in us when issuing our driver’s licence, you should be ashamed to even think about exceeding the posted speed limit.

But if that should happen by accident, which are the most dangerous provinces to speed in? Here’s a regional break-down:

Here’s the cost of a ticket for going 10 km/h over the speed limit in a 50 km;/h zone. What you actually pay in your province may be higher if the Crown tacks on more court fees, victim surcharges, and so on. Other provinces allow you to pay less in plea bargain arrangements.

THE EAST COAST

NEWFOUNDLAND: Here’s the thing about Newfoundland: barely anyone lives there, and there are thousands of kilometres of mostly-empty roads. Many of the secondary highways travel through small towns; speed limits are lowered here, and it’s not hard to exceed them, but in my travels on The Rock, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone pulled over in these villages.

Newfoundland does have legislation that allows for vehicle seizure if police officers figure you’ve been traveling more than 51 km/h over the speed limit, or if a motorist is  “charged with excessive speeding, racing, or performing stunts”. We’ve never actually heard of a motorcycle being confiscated, though. Given the scarcity of traffic enforcement in Newfoundland, you probably should be more worried about hitting a moose, bear or caribou.

Speeding tickets are expensive in Nova Scotia, but the RCMP seems to mostly stick to the 100-series highways. You’re less likely to be pulled over on a back road.

NOVA SCOTIA: The land of the friendly Bluenosers, who can’t wait to play a fiddle jig for you, and sell you a lobster roll. In reality, Nova Scotia has some of the highest-priced traffic tickets in all of Canada ($237.50. for 1 km/h over the speed limit!). Plus, in the past, Nova Scotia’s used such tactics as aircraft patrols on the highways, and staking out the overpasses to nab motorcyclists leaving the races at Shubenacadie.

Nova Scotia also allows for vehicle seizure for “stunting.” As per the RCMP’s website, “Stunting is $2,422.50 for a first offence, six points on your license and an immediate seven-day roadside licence suspension.” You can get a stunting ticket for riding more than 50 km/h over the speed limit, or for doing a wheelie, or for doing donuts (more details here). As well, there are plenty of hazardous moose, deer and even bears on the road.

The price of going 20 km/h over in a 90 km/h zone. In some provinces, it’s no different than 10 km/h over. What you actually pay in your province may be higher if the Crown tacks on more court fees, victim surcharges, and so on. Other provinces allow you to pay less in plea bargain arrangements.

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND: The thing about PEI is, it’s pretty easy to speed here by accident. The fastest you can legally travel is 90 km/h, and most highways top out at 80 km/h, with extended 70 km/h sections, or even lower, through towns. However, PEI’s traffic ticket fines fall into the mid-range when compared across Canada, and outside of the towns, there isn’t a lot of enforcement, as the roads are mostly narrow and unsafe for cruisers to pull over.

There are no moose/deer/bears to hit, but there are plenty of slow tourists in RVs, and there’s lots of farm equipment. Everyone, including most locals, is exceeding the speed limit on PEI’s roads, but the flip side is that sooner or later you get stuck behind a rolling roadblock, which evens out the speeding quickly.

NEW BRUNSWICK: New Brunswick is another province with mid-range-cost traffic tickets, and not much rural traffic policing. Speed in town, and you’ll get nabbed eventually. However, most people are traveling above the speed limit, and you rarely see speeders pulled over anywhere but on city streets and the four-lane highways. Tickets are more expensive than you’ll pay in central Canada, but you don’t see many handed out.

Winner! (Loser?) When it comes to the east coast, Newfoundland has definitely ramped up its anti-speed measures in recent years, but Nova Scotia is still the most dangerous place to speed, thanks to high-priced tickets, vehicle seizures, and large animals to hit.

CENTRAL CANADA

QUEBEC: Quebec has fairly low speeding fines, at least starting out, but has automated speed cameras, so there’s potential to get a lot of speeding tickets. Rightly or wrongly, Quebec’s provincial police also have a reputation for targeting out-of-province speeders while ignoring the transgressions of locals. As well, Quebec has a provincially-run insurance system, so there’s no way to avoid rate hikes if you get a ticket. Yikes.

Ontario 401 Speeding Ticket Cost
Yep. Ontario gets its anti-speed campaign right in your face, as soon as you hit the 401.

ONTARIO: As soon as you cross the provincial border into Ontario, you see big signs warning of the Dangers Of Speed — specifically, of the points to your licence and the financial dangers. Quebec might have speed cameras in strategic areas, but in Ontario, OPP cruisers are hidden behind the highway overpasses.

But don’t worry, Ontario is also preparing to install speed cameras as well, at least in the GTA, after years without photo radar. If you’re speeding 50 over the limit (which is easier to do than you’d think, sadly), you’ll be charged with stunting, your bike will be seized, and you’ll be handed a fine of up to $10,000. More to the point, your insurance cost will be astronomical for the next five years.

Winner! Ontario, hands-down, due to the heavy enforcement and potential for having your bike confiscated.

THE WEST

MANITOBA: Manitoba has plenty of wide open farmland where there is nothing to do but speed watch the scenery. And Manitoba has some of the highest ticket prices in the land. So what’s a person to do? Errr, just hope the police don’t chase you down amidst the wheat fields. From what we’ve heard, they aren’t too bad outside the major cities. Same goes for speed cameras. Manitoba’s provincial insurance system isn’t friendly to speeders, either.

Why doesn’t Willy ride a sportbike in Manitoba? Because he can’t afford the speeding tickets … best to keep it niiiiiiice and slow on a cruiser.

SASKATCHEWAN: Saskatchewan has the same challenge as Manitoba: lots of empty farmland with little motivation to slow down. For a long time, Saskatchewan had extremely low speeding fines to make up for it, but last year, the province hiked the costs a lot. Radar detectors are legal in Saskatchewan, although there’s nowhere to hide from LIDAR on the prairies. You might encounter photo radar in bigger cities. But remember, if you do get caught and you’re a resident, Saskatchewan has provincially-run vehicle insurance, and your rates will hike.

ALBERTA: Alberta also has the wide-open-spaces challenge in many areas: there’s little of interest to see, the road is wide and straight, so why not push it? Because Alberta sheriffs can be very humourless, that’s why. That’s right, in Alberta, the local sheriffs (who you’d usually expect to be restricted to prisoner transport, etc.) can pull you over and slap you with a big speeding ticket, as well as the standard police patrols. That’s right, there’s another level of law enforcement to watch out for.

Alberta is changing up its photo radar program, though. Earlier this year, the provincial minister of transportation said they’d “humanely put the cash cow down,” requiring municipalities to prove the cameras address a safety issue before allowing them.

With beautiful roads like this, you’re going to want to carry speed through the corners in BC. But if you get caught with too much, you’ll pay dearly.

BRITISH COLUMBIA: BC’s got it all: a renewed photo radar program, speeding tickets that are expensive when compared to other provinces, and automatic impoundment of your vehicle if you’re busted for “Excessive Speeding.” The province deems you’re speeding excessively if you’re 40 km/h over the limit; for more details of that grim scenario, see the province’s website.

There’s also BC’s provincially-run insurance system, which has a reputation for hosing its customers, something that will only get worse with speeding tickets. The only thing you’ve got going in your favour is legal radar detectors, and higher speed limits now on many of the province’s divided highways.

Winner! BC may be beautiful, but it’s a bad place to speed, maybe the worst in Canada. It’s too bad, because it has some of the best roads for a quicker pace.

6 thoughts on “The worst provinces to speed”

  1. “Rightly or wrongly, Quebec’s provincial police also have a reputation for targeting out-of-province speeders while ignoring the transgressions of locals” : facts, not rumours, please. Or don’t prentend to a journalist.

  2. I’ve been fortunate enough to ride a fare amount in Europe and it’s so refreshing. Most or all the countries don’t have highway patrols for speed, speed cameras when entering towns though but fair enough. Switzerland being the exception. Combine that with totally appropriate speed limits and it adds up to roads that can be ridden at a challenging pace and no tickets. Worth every penny.

  3. Well Zac as a high mileage rider I will put in my 2 cents worth. I live in Calgary, and do most of my riding in BC and NW Washington state. In Alberta every RCMP detachment now has an “integrated traffic unit”. The Sheriffs and Peace Officers only write moving violations. We have relatively few paved roads and they are on every road now, even the sand sealed roads. Given the profoundly boring (straight) roads and the police state we now live in, I have basically stopped riding in Alberta. In most of BC the RCMP patrol around the towns, out in the middle of nowhere I rarely see them. I ride quickly, I try to keep it to 40 over on the boring stuff but regular bursts much higher. In approximately 6 years and 100 K km riding I have one ticket. I just pick my spots, ie don’t go crazy on the sea to sky highway!! But if you get off the ferry in Needles, you have basically 100 km of empty road. I only ride 9 am-6 pm max to avoid deer o’clock. NW Washington, again, on the quiet back roads I have never seen them. The Icefields Parkway in AB is beautiful but there are zero corners and thousands of people who don’t know how to drive. Better in a car because it can and does snow on that road every month of the year. Just ride through AB at the speed limit and go to BC. Alberta sucks now. On the upside if/when I get BC tickets it is just the money, no points. Cam

    1. Integrated Traffic Units? Crazy. Here in New Brunswick, we have whole cities (Moncton, at least) that have only two RCMP cars on duty at night. The highway? Detachments have basically pulled cars off highway patrol duty. The Highway Safety vans have been rumoured to be replacing RCMP as highway patrol, but I doubt that will happen.

    2. Replace Alberta with Ontario and Washington state with West Virginia and I’d swear you wrote my exact comments, as I write this from a hotel room in West Virginia.

Join the conversation!