When deer are not so dear

Animals on the highways are causing problems

Deer can be crossing the highways in great numbers. It is so bad that last year almost 60,000 drivers in Canada hit a deer. The insurance cost is close to $400 million. These numbers come from a study done by State Farm Insurance based on the provinces of Ontario, Alberta and New Brunswick with available provincial and national data.

The beautiful white-tailed deer account for about nine of every 10 vehicle collisions in Canada. This includes all large animals such as bears, elk and moose. The province with the most deer collisions is Ontario.

The cost is as many as 50 drivers and passengers in vehicles will die and thousands will be injured in animal collisions.

Insurance answer

Items such as deer whistles affixed to vehicles do not have any effect. They do not reduce collisions. The warning signs have become so common that most drivers do not increase their level of alertness. With an average claim running about $6,000 we have to do something. So what do you do to help reduce these claims?

Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) has set up an online alert for known deer crossings. There is fencing similar to what you will see in a National Park that helps to prevent moose-crossings set up in Quebec and New Brunswick.

There are approximately 6,600 deer-vehicle crashes each year in Manitoba. The City of Winnipeg has about 400 crashes annually between vehicles and deer.

In Ottawa there is a program that started in 2006 called, "Speeding Costs You Deerly". It uses large, bright signs that catch people attention and reduced deer collisions in October and November 2005 from 344 to only 214 in October and November 2008.

Parks Canada has provided 24 over passes and tunnels for the animals to cross the TransCanada Highway through Banff National Park. The over passes are rather attractive and are working well. The fencing of the park reduced deer and elk collisions by more than 96% and overall wildlife collisions by more than 80%.

Parks Canada has been monitoring the wildlife corridors and have reported 220,000 crossings as of July 2010 by 11 different species.

Some new technology might provide some answers. There is currently research being done on motion detectors that would alert the driver that there is something on the road. In the meantime some of the steps you can take to reduce your risk include:

  • Peak times for animal collisions occur in the hours around dawn and dusk.
  • Peak season is spring and fall.
  • Reducing your speed will help in avoiding that deer-vehicle collision.
  • Watch the roadside carefully and slow down when you spot them.
  • Avoid swerving. More people die from hitting a structure when swerving then from actually hitting the deer.
  • Most insurance companies regard a collision with an animal as a Comprehensive-type claim. The deductible is usually lower and it is unlikely to affect your driving record. If you do swerve and hit an object or damage your vehicle then it is regarded as a fault in most provinces.