Articles for Non-Lawyers

Photo: Deer in front of car

Avoiding Deer Collisions on Hamilton Area Roads by Patricia Santucci

Oh Deer! 10 Tips for Avoiding a Collision With Deer on Hamilton Area Roads

Vehicle collisions with wild animals can cause serious personal injuries and even death, not only to the animal but also to us humans. According to the Ministry of Transportation, on average, there is a motor vehicle/wild animal collision every 38 minutes in Ontario. One out of every 17 motor vehicle collisions involves a wild animal. The MTO states that wild animal collisions are increasing annually.

In our area, collisions with deer are particularly serious. A study by State Farm Insurance Company reports that in 2005, approximately 60,000 Canadian drivers hit a deer, which is double the number from a decade prior. Across Canada as many as 50 drivers and passengers will die per year, and thousands will be injured in collisions with wildlife.

While it is possible to collide with a deer at any time of the year, the risk of collision is highest in May and June and from October to January”just in time for the Christmas season, which is upon us.

The MTO recommends these tips:

I added the puns to try and have a bit of “fawn” with this otherwise very serious topic.

  1. As you are driving, scan the road ahead from shoulder to shoulder. When you see wildlife beside the road, slow down and pass carefully as they may suddenly bolt onto the road – especially if they are high-tailing it from somewhere, or running for “deer life”.

  2. Watch for the yellow wildlife warning signs that indicate an area of increased risk. Slow down when travelling through these areas, and don’t buck your responsibilities.

  3. Use your high beams at night where possible and watch for glowing eyes of animals. They don’t call it “deer in the headlights” for nothing!

  4. You need a “game plan” so stay in control. Watch your speed and take extra precautions when driving at night as visibility is greatly reduced. Slowing down will give you that extra second to respond.

  5. Never swerve suddenly. This could cause your vehicle to go out of control or head into oncoming traffic. You are better to slow down and sound your “horn”.

  6. Brake firmly if an animal is standing on, or crossing, the road. Never assume the animal will move out of your way. You need to “buck up” and wait for the animal to leave the road.

  7. Stop as safely as possible if a wild animal is crossing the road. Remember, if one animal crosses the road, others may follow. You don’t have to “rack your brain” to figure this out.

  8. If possible, avoid driving during dusk or dawn when most wildlife collisions occur. If you have to drive during these times “hoof” it out of the rural areas whenever you can, and travel on busier urban roads where collisions with wildlife are less common.

  9. If hitting a wild animal is unavoidable (making them the “deerly departed”), remember to stay in control. Swerving to avoid hitting a wild animal may result in a more serious collision.

  10. People who live adjacent to highways are encouraged not to feed deer during the winter as this increases the probability of motor vehicle collisions, resulting in more personal injuries and increased deer mortality. Motorists should watch for these potential problem areas and drive carefully when passing through them. At least, that is what I have “herd”.

If you do hit a deer, whether you are injured or not, you should call the police to report the accident. You will be able to make a claim for accident (no-fault) benefits from your own insurance company if you are injured. There are a variety of benefits that you may qualify for, including medical and rehabilitation benefits, attendant care benefits, income replacement benefits and non-earner benefits. You need to call an experienced personal injury law firm like Santucci Law to help you through the process, and make sure that you receive the benefits that you are entitled to after a collision with a deer.

About the Author Patricia Santucci

Patricia Santucci is a personal injury lawyer born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario. She holds several degrees having attended King’s College at the University of Western Ontario, McMaster University, earned a Master of Arts degree at the University of Windsor and an Ontario Teaching Degree from Teacher’s College as well as her Ontario Teaching Certificate. After graduating from the University of Alberta law school she was called to the bar in 2000. You can find Patricia on and LinkedIn or directly through this website