Driving in Manitoba

Driving laws in Manitoba vary from other provinces and, in many cases may be quite different than in other countries.

Drinking and Driving:

Manitoba has tough standards when it comes to drinking and driving. 

The law includes any kind of vehicle, on or off road, even boats, aircraft, special mobile machines, tractors and other agricultural equipment. There are immediate consequences for driving while impaired, but you can also be charged with criminal offences and further penalties and suspensions. If you are operating a motor vehicle in Manitoba, make the right choice – don’t drink and drive.

Distracted Driving

  • Driving requires your full attention.
    In Manitoba, using a hand-operated electronic device (HOED) while driving has been prohibited since July 2010 under the Highway Traffic Act. A HOED includes any electronic device normally requiring the user’s hand to operate and prohibits drivers from holding, using or communicating with HOED that are capable of sending and receiving calls, e-mail or text messages. The fine for use of a HOED while driving is $204.

    Effective July 1, 2015, a driver drops five levels on the Driver Safety Rating (DSR) Scale for each HOED offence under the Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation Act (Driver Safety Rating Regulation). A driver with a poor DSR pays much more for annual licencing and vehicle insurance than a driver with a good DSR. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety lists common causes of distracted driving that you may not have considered.
  • Text Messaging
    According to the Canadian Automobile Association drivers engaged in text messaging are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near crash event. Driving simulators offer an eye-opening experience of the effects of driving while distracted. Try out  the simulators on the Dropitanddrive.com site.
  • Videos
    There are also many sobering videos to watch regarding the effects of distracted driving, such as From one second to the next, a film by Werner Herzog or the many videos found on the It Can Wait website.

Rules of the Road and Speed Limits

  • Speed limits in Manitoba differ than speed limits in some other jurisdictions. When entering Manitoba, be sure to check the speed limit signs on Manitoba highways and within town and city limits.  Highway maximum speeds are most often 100 km/hour and city speed limits around 50 km/hour, unless otherwise posted.
  • Rules of the Road
    Manitoba Public Insurance offers a Driver’s Handbook that explains the rules of the road in Manitoba.

Enhancing Passenger Safety

The Manitoba government has strengthened the laws to enhance the safety of persons transported in wheelchairs by establishing requirements for mobility aid securement and occupant restraint (MASOR) system use that are comparable to the seating and seatbelt use requirements imposed on passengers seated in conventional/regular vehicle seats. 

Effective December 1st, 2015, drivers transporting persons in wheelchairs will be prohibited from driving unless:

  • every wheelchair occupied by a person in a motor vehicle is properly secured, and
  • every person occupying a wheelchair in a motor vehicle is properly restrained by an occupant restraint system.

A mobility aid securement system is a tie down system designed to immobilize a wheelchair in a vehicle and an occupant restraint system is a restraining device intended to be used in the same way as a seatbelt for persons seated in wheelchairs.

Supporting provincial regulations will:

  • exempt certain classes of persons and vehicles from the new legislative requirements, including drivers of personal vehicles and drivers of regular/scheduled service municipal transit buses
  • prescribe equipment standards for MASOR systems
  • require vehicles that transport persons in wheelchairs, including school buses and vehicles operated by handi-transit services, accessible taxi services, community care homes and health care facilities, etc., to be equipped with MASOR systems that meet one of the prescribed standards unless exempt in regulation.

The Manitoba government has strengthened the laws to provide greater safety for persons riding in vehicles on provincial highways.

Effective December 1, 2014:

  • Vehicles can carry no more passengers than the number of seats for which there are seat belts
  • Transporting passengers in cargo areas (ex: truck boxes, trunks, trailers, rear cargo areas) is against the law
  • Drivers will not be allowed to drive if:
    • passengers are not in a proper seating position
    • more than one passenger occupies a single seating position
    • passengers share a seat belt
    • there are more passengers in the vehicle than there are seats with seat belts

The fine amount for failing to follow these requirements under the Highway Traffic Act is $203.80. The fines for drivers or passengers failing to wear seat belts remains $299.65. In addition, the fine for a driver failing to ensure persons under 18 years of age are wearing seat belts prior to driving a vehicle remains $299.65.

Relevant Acts

  • Driver’s Licence 
    If you live in Manitoba, you must be at least 16 years old and have a valid Manitoba driver’s licence to drive in this province. If you are new to Manitoba contact Manitoba Public Insurance.
  • Insurance
    Basic Autopac (insurance) is mandatory in Manitoba and is available through Manitoba Public Insurance and Autopac brokers around the province. Out of province drivers can visit the Manitoba Public Insurance website for information on while visiting Manitoba.
  • Seatbelts and Car Seats for Children 
    • In Manitoba, by law, all drivers and passengers must wear a seatbelt.
      Babies and children who are too small to wear seat belts must be placed in properly installed infant or child car seats, appropriate to the age and weight of the child.
    • Since August 8, 2013, children are required to remain in booster seats until they are at least: 145 centimetres (4”9”) tall; 36 kilograms (80 pounds); OR; nine years old.
  • Road Construction Safety
    If you are driving through a construction zone on a Manitoba road, expect the unexpected. Speed limits may be lower and traffic diverted. Workers and equipment may be working on or near the road. Help keep Manitoba workers safe by slowing down. 
  • Passing Emergency Vehicles
    In Manitoba you are required to slow down, be cautious, and pass stopped emergency vehicles with their lights activated only when safe to do so. You must move out of the lane that the emergency vehicle is stopped in and, in the case multilane highways, move into a lane that is not adjacent to the stopped vehicle. If you do not follow these rules, you may receive a fine of $299.65 and demerit points on your license.
  • Smoking ban in cars with children
    In Manitoba, smoking in cars when children under 16 are present is prohibited. This applies to all lighted tobacco products. The law applies to all motor vehicles regardless of whether any window, sunroof, rooftop, door or other feature of the vehicle is open.
  • Radar Detection Devices
    Radar detectors are illegal in Manitoba. No person shall drive a motor vehicle that is equipped, or equip a motor vehicle, with a device for detecting radar speed; or have possession of a device for detecting radar speed determination equipment in a motor vehicle; or permit a motor vehicle of which he is the registered owner to become or to remain equipped with a device for detecting radar speed testing equipment. 
  • Cycling in Manitoba 
    • In Manitoba bicycles and tricycles are considered vehicles and must obey road signs and traffic rules just like people driving cars, trucks and buses. In return motor vehicles are expected to share the road with cyclists.
    • On May 1st, 2013 a new law took effect in Manitoba that makes it compulsory for cyclists under the age of 18 to wear a suitable helmet while cycling. The law also applies to an individual under that age when the individual is a passenger on a bicycle or on or in anything attached to or towed by a bicycle. Helmets must be safety certified. 
  • Wearing a helmet is also mandatory by law when you’re on a snowmobile, motorcycle or ATV.
  • Off Road Vehicle Use and Safety 
    Off road vehicles, with limited exemptions, are not permitted to operate on highways, highway shoulders or medians (the space between divided highways). They are however allowed in ditches, to the right of highways. Off road vehicle operators that cross a highway must hold a valid Manitoba driver`s licence.
  • Manitoba Highway Conditions (511) 
    • Manitoba Road and Traveller Information gives you up to date information on road and weather conditions and forecasts for Manitoba highways, as well as construction updates for Winnipeg, Brandon and Portage La Prairie.
    • You can also call 511 toll free or follow @MBGovRoads on Twitter for information.