The Ultimate Guide to Slow-Moving Vehicle Signs in Canada

By Arthur Dubois | Published on 22 Aug 2023

Navigating the roadways, whether as a driver, cyclist or pedestrian, requires understanding various signs, from speed limit signs to school zone signs. On some rural Canadian roads and many work zones we encounter the slow-moving vehicle sign. 

In this ultimate guide, we will shed light on the purpose and regulations surrounding slow-moving vehicle signs in Canada. So, buckle up as we drive you through this critical route of knowledge.

Understanding the Importance of Slow-Moving Vehicle Signs

Slow-moving vehicle signs serve a pivotal role in ensuring road safety, potentially saving lives. They alert drivers to the presence of vehicles on the road that cannot get up to speeds greater than 40 km/h. These signs act as a visual warning, so faster vehicles can decrease speed or change their path in due time. 

Imagine a scenario where a large tractor is making its way down a narrow country road. Without the presence of a slow-moving vehicle sign, drivers approaching from behind might not recognize the tractor’s reduced speed. This lack of awareness could lead to disastrous consequences, as drivers may not react quickly and avoid a collision. 

Between 2018 and 2023, Ontario’s provincial police reported 550 car-tractor collisions in southwestern Ontario alone. However, with the presence of a slow-moving vehicle sign, drivers are immediately made aware of the situation. They typically appear on these types of vehicles:

  • construction equipment, like a backhoe or a front-end loader
  • farm equipment
  • street sweepers
  • fork lifts

The Role of slow-moving Vehicle Signs in Road Safety

Primarily, these signs alert faster moving traffic to the presence of slower-moving vehicles on the road. They are especially common in rural areas where large farm machinery often share the roads with passenger vehicles. This helps to ensure that all road users are aware of the potential hazards and can take appropriate measures to avoid collisions.

Moreover, slow-moving vehicle signs also remind drivers to exercise caution and patience when encountering other vehicles. After all, everyone on the road has the right to reach their destination safely, regardless of their speed or mode of transportation. Therefore, these signs foster a culture of mutual respect and understanding among all road users.

Ignoring slow-moving vehicle signs can have serious legal implications. Failure to recognize and respond appropriately to these signs can reflect reckless or careless behavior, hence punishable under traffic laws. In Canada, any violation may result in fines, demerit points or even imprisonment for repeat offences.

Instead, watch for these signs, especially during farm planting and harvesting seasons, or construction zones. Follow these steps:

  • Stay out of their blind spots so the driver to see you
  • Patiently wait for the driver will pull over to let you pass when safe
  • Wait until they turn off the road if the driver does not pull over

By ignoring the warnings provided by slow-moving vehicle signs, drivers risk their own lives and the lives of others. With fewer driving infractions on your record, your car insurance rates stay lower as well.

Identifying Different Types of Slow-moving Vehicle Signs in Canada

In Canada, the most common symbol indicating a slow-moving vehicle is a triangle shape filled with a fluorescent orange colour. It also has a red border.

Universally, triangles symbolize caution and warning. By incorporating this shape into slow-moving vehicle signs, drivers are immediately alerted to the presence of a potential hazard ahead.

The bright fluorescent orange-red colour stands out and increases visibility, especially in low-light conditions. Furthermore, the use of a vibrant colour like fluorescent orange-red differentiates these signs from other traffic signs. 

At times, these triangles may also include an image of a horse for a horse-drawn carriage. This additional image helps to further clarify the type of slow-moving vehicle and allows drivers to adjust their habits accordingly.

Laws and Regulations Surrounding slow-moving Vehicle Signs in Canada

While the provinces share general rules about these signs, each one has its own fines or penalties for non-compliance. Therefore, familiarize oneself with the specific rules and regulations where you live.  

Province or TerritoryPenalties
Alberta3 demerit points for improper passing, 6 for reckless driving, fine can range from $200 to $500 for first-time offences
British ColumbiaUnsafe passing, $109 fine, 3 demerit points; passing without due consideration, $196 fine, 6 points; passing without due care, $368 fine, 6 points
ManitobaDisobey rules when overtaking or driving without a clear view or regard for safety, $143 fine; driving imprudently, $203 fine
New BrunswickDriving without due care and attention or consideration for other drivers constitute C and H category traffic offences
Newfoundland and LabradorImproper passing, $100 to $400 fine, plus 2 demerit points
Northwest TerritoriesCareless driving, $332 fine
Nova ScotiaPassing unsafely, $295 fine for a first-time offence, then $467.50 and $812.50 for subsequent violations, plus 4 points. 
NunavutOvertaking a vehicle, 2 demerit points; careless driving, 6 points; fines are unspecified
OntarioUnsafe passing, $85 fine, 3 points; careless driving, $400 fine, 6 points
Prince Edward IslandImproper passing, $200 to $1,000 fine, 3 demerit points; driving imprudently or without care and attention, $200 to $500 fine, 5 points
QuebecReckless driving endangering the lives and safety of others, $1,000 to $3,000 fine
SaskatchewanDrive without due care or attention, $580 fine and 4 points
YukonDrive without due care or attention, up to $500 in fines, 3 demerit points

The Correct Usage of Slow-moving Vehicle Signs

If you operate a slow-moving vehicle, displaying these signs ensures your safety and compliance with the law. You can buy a slow-moving vehicle sign from local hardware or other retail stores.

Slow-moving vehicle signs go in the centre rear of the vehicle. Ideally, place them in the centre of the vehicle between 0.6 metres (two feet) and two metres (six feet) above the road surface. They go on whenever you drive a slow-moving vehicle on public roads, yet are not needed when crossing them.

For better visibility, clean them regularly. More importantly, signs that get washed out or faded should be replaced promptly to ensure their effectiveness.

If you drive a slow-moving vehicle, legally you must:

  • Move to the right lane to get others pass when it’s safe
  • Drive as close to the right curb or edge of the road as possible
  • Turn left cautiously after checking for attempted passing

Therefore, always drive vigilantly and attentively, keeping an eye out for slow-moving vehicle signs and responding appropriately. By doing so, we can create a safer and more harmonious road environment for everyone.

Arthur Dubois is a personal finance writer at Hardbacon. Since relocating to Canada, he has successfully built his credit score from scratch and begun investing in the stock market. In addition to his work at Hardbacon, Arthur has contributed to Metro newspaper and several other publications