We wish our Canadian readers a Happy Hangover D'Eh. When we learned, over a Molsons, last week that more than 15,000 Hong Kong students attend Canadian universities, we were concerned about a vital aspect of their overseas education: their driving. After all, Canadians are probably the best drivers in the world, and we're probably not. Ian McNabb, executive director of the 1,200-member Canadian Chamber of Commerce, offers our Canada-bound young a quick pre-term tutorial. A former member of the Canadian Armoured Corps, the chamber chief's driven all over the world, but reckons our young could adapt easily to his country's roads. 'Driving conditions vary considerably from region to region and from season to season,' says McNabb, who keeps a 1961 TR3 - his third Triumph - in St Thomas, Ontario. 'Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Quebec City are large cities with extensive motorways and driving on them is much like driving here. Drivers are generally courteous and law abiding. The smaller cities have fewer high-speed roads, but are quite easy to navigate; examples are Saskatoon and Regina in Saskatchewan, London (home of the University of Western Ontario), Kitchener (University of Waterloo and Sir Wilfred Laurier), Hamilton (McMaster), Kingston (Queen's) in Ontario, Halifax, in Nova Scotia.' Road signs are the standard international design, and you'll need to learn French for warnings in Quebec ( www.trailcanada.com/travel/french-signs.asp shows how Allumez Vos Phares = Turn on Headlights; Chute de Pierres = Falling Rocks). The law's strict, McNabb says. Foot Down would never mess with the Mounties. 'Try not to run red lights, or the police, or their cameras will get you,' he says. 'Seat belts must be worn by all passengers or you will get a fine of around $600.' Headlights must be used 24 hours a day in Canada, McNabb says. 'This 'innovation' has reduced head-on collisions immensely,' he says. Drink driving is highly frowned upon in Canada, McNabb says. 'Having opened bottles of liquor or beer in a car is illegal,' he says. 'Students are often targeted by police checking for 'drunk drivers', as we say.' The most difficult thing to adapt to is driving on ice and in snow. 'When the first sleet or snow comes, go out with a friend or instructor and get accustomed to the different ways cars handle in these conditions,' McNabb says. 'It is good to go out on a quiet Sunday morning to a mall parking lot and practise turning and braking techniques until you have it mastered.' Drivers should also have a shovel, sand and/or salt, as well as an ice scraper in case of snow. 'The snow leaves plenty of time to dig out your car, or to clear the entrance to the driveway after the snowplough goes by and fills it in again,' McNabb says.'If you leave town, especially in the Prairies, and are driving long distances between built-up areas, take blankets, some candles and matches and even carry flares and some emergency tinned rations.' He advises Hong Kong drivers to go to the local 'Canadian Tire' store, and 'stock up on items for use in an emergency, especially a jumper cable, a winter-time must'. Learn also about 'windshield' and 'gasoline' anti-freeze, all-weather coolant, the difference between winter and summer oils, keeping the proper tyre inflation and so on. Tyre chains are mandatory in some mountainous areas, he says. Join the Canadian Automobile Association ( www.caa.ca ), McNabb says. 'It is the best investment you can make,' he says. 'Their recovery service will tow your car to a garage in case of breakdown, or getting stuck in a snowdrift. They will come out and start your car in the dead of winter if it is frozen up. It can pay for itself with two emergency assistance visits. Don't leave home without it. Canadian Tire and the large department stores such as Sears also offer you a special card which provides emergency service.' As for buying a car in Canada, caveat emptor applies as ever, so get friends and relatives to help you, McNabb says. 'If you purchase from a reputable dealer there is often a cooling-off period or limited time warranty in which you can return the car for a full refund,' he says. 'Check out Auto Trader and other sites in Canada. If you buy a used car, it must have a government-controlled safety check and certificate. Take used cars to an independent garage and pay for a check-up. Also make sure the tyres have lots of tread left for safe winter driving.' McNabb says insurance is very expensive for people aged under 25. 'Collision coverage is compulsory, and recognise all the terms used for insurance,' he says. We thank McNabb for his advice, and wish our student readers, safe driving in Canada. Foot Down would love to hear any Canadian motoring stories involving elk, pucks, bears and picnic baskets. And we wish our American readers a Star-Spangled but safe, rev-up on Monday.