A few readers have written to alert me to a change in FAA regulations effective June 30th. The new rule requires controllers to issue, and pilots to receive, explicit clearances to cross any runway, including an inactive or closed one. Controllers are no longer allowed to simply say "taxi to" the active runway and must give a routing and explicit instructions to cross or hold short of each runway encountered en route. They can still assign an airplane to follow another, instead of giving explicit routing, but must issue crossing and/or hold short instructions to the following aircraft if the route crosses any runways. The "follow the 737" type of instruction is very useful for pilots who are unfamiliar with an airport that has confusing taxiway instructions. The controller can just have us follow someone that they know knows the way, such as a scheduled airline flight.
This rule change makes me happy, because the rule has existed in Canada since before I learned to fly, and was deeply ingrained in my psyche before my first solo. Every time an American controller blithely says to me, "Taxi to runway seven," I frown and consult my runway diagram, thinking "how does she want me to get there?" I choose a route using the taxiway diagram, but my instinct is still to stop at all hold short lines. To tell the truth, even when I am in the States and know that the rule allows me to proceed across the double lines ahead of me, most of the time I still call ground and "confirm cleared across two seven?" The ground controller might sound irritated, but not as irritated as she would sound if I committed a runway incursion.
I believe some US airports have had this in place as a house rule or a local regulation for some time, because I have had explicit US runway crossing clearances in the past. In fact on June 20th I landed at a US airport and my taxi clearance to parking included an explicit runway crossing. The next day when I was taxiing out it didn't, so I confirmed and then followed up with "I guess you guys don't need to issue that clearance until next week, eh?" The previous day's controller was possibly practicing for the change.
What safety procedures already present in the US should Canada adopt? Off the top of my head, I'd like to suggest that Nav Canada print airport identifiers on WACs and VNCs (charts).