A collision with wildlife can cause serious injury or death to vehicle occupants and the animal, and can result in significant vehicle damage. Wild animals can be found on roadways anywhere, even within cities. Peak wildlife times are from dusk to dawn in the fall.

You can take steps to avoid collisions with wildlife. Watch our 60 Second Driver video on Wildlife and be sure to read the tips below.

And remember: wearing your seatbelt is one of the best ways to prevent injury in any collision.

Drive defensively

Keep yourself safer by driving defensively. Maintain a safety zone around your vehicle, so there is room between your car and others on the road, and have an escape route. An escape route is a plan for where you can move if the road in front of you is suddenly blocked. You can learn more in our 60 Second Driver – Defensive Driving video.

Be sure to anticipate dangerous situations – be extremely cautious if you are in an area with a high concentration of deer crashes (see the Winnipeg and rural Manitoba deer collision hot spots) or driving at a time of year with a high collision rate (October and November are the two worst months for deer/vehicle collisions).

Tips to help keep you safe:

Slow down:

  • Be cautious when you see wildlife crossing signs.
  • Be alert at dawn, dusk and at night.
  • Maintain caution where brush and tall grass grow near the road.
  • Drive at a speed at which you will be able to stop within the zone of your headlights.

Watch carefully:

  • Scan the roadside for animals – get your passengers to help.
  • Watch for the reflection of headlights in the eyes of a deer, or a dark silhouette.
  • Use your high beams at night but remember to dim them for oncoming traffic and when following another vehicle closely.

If an animal crosses:

  • Dim your headlights—your brights may cause a deer to freeze on the road.
  • Slow down and be prepared to stop.
  • Blow your horn to scare the animal away.
  • Avoid hard swerving—you may lose control or crash into another vehicle.
  • Brake firmly to reduce the impact between an animal and your vehicle.

If you hit a large animal:

  • Don’t touch it – it may hurt you.
  • Move your car off the road if possible, and call the police if necessary.

For more information on collisions with wildlife in Canada, visit the Wildlife Roadsharing Resource Centre.

Driving at night is more dangerous than driving in daylight hours – whether you’re operating a passenger vehicle, a motorcycle or a bicycle. The safety tips below, along with this 60 Second Driver video on night driving can help you stay safe at night.

Safety tips for drivers

  • On highways, use your high beams to see further – but dim the lights when approaching a vehicle from behind or from the opposite direction.
  • Increase your following distance behind vehicles so you don’t blind the driver in front.
  • To reduce glare from oncoming vehicles, look to the right edge of the roadway instead of looking directly at their headlights.
  • Reduce your speed at night – you should never drive so fast that you can’t stop within the distance you can see with your headlights.
  • Continually scan the road to identify potential dangers like wildlife or vehicles on the side of the road.
  • Never drive when tired – change drivers or pull over and rest.

Safety tips for cyclists

  • Ride defensively, especially at dawn and dusk due to reduced visibility.
  • The Highway Traffic Act states that all cyclists must have a white light at the front of their bike and a red or amber reflector at the rear – however a red tail light is recommended to increase visibility (generally blinking lights are more effective than a solid beam).
  • Further increase your visibility with pedal reflectors, reflective strips on your front forks and chain stays, wheel reflectors, and reflective wrist or ankle bands.
  • Wear bright colours, such as yellow or white, which are more noticeable at night.

Safety tips for motorcyclists and mopeds

  • Reduce your speed and only pass when necessary.
  • Allow more distance when following to give yourself more time to react, keeping a following distance of at least four or five seconds.
  • Signal earlier, brake sooner, and flash your brake lights.
  • Keep your goggles, face shield and windshield clean and replace them if badly scratched.
  • Ensure you are visible by cleaning your lights and reflectors, and wearing bright/reflective clothing or adding reflective tape to your clothing or vehicle.
  • Use your low beams in rain, fog, snow or smoke.
  • If you are in a line of traffic, first flash your brake lights to alert those behind you, then apply your brakes steadily.
  • Never ride with the brake partly applied: it causes premature brake wear and it turns on your brake light, which confuses other drivers.

Gravel roads are a fact of life for Manitobans. Whether you belong to the farming community, or whether you are a weekend commuter to the lake, at some point we all face the special challenges presented by gravel roads.

The major concern with driving on gravel roads is traction. Driving on any gravel surface, loose or hard-packed, is trickier than driving on paved roads because tires do not have the traction needed to maintain stable control of your vehicle. When speed is added to the mix, you have a formula for trouble.

Construction materials, weather, traffic volumes, and varying vehicle weights also change a gravel road’s conditions very quickly and can spell disaster for an unprepared driver. Novice drivers, for example, who have not gained the driving experience and who are already higher risk road users, are particularly vulnerable when it comes to driving on gravel roads. On average 16.5 per cent of all fatal crashes occur on gravel roads, resulting in 17 deaths each year.

Gravel road hazards

Many drivers encounter problems when they move from a paved surface to a gravel road. Your vehicle is going to handle differently when it moves from one surface to another, so it is important to slow down. The gravel may be loose or hard-packed, and you want to adjust to the new road conditions before regaining speed.

A vehicle can be difficult to handle on a gravel road and skidding might occur, especially if you have suddenly changed your speed or direction. You can remove the cause of the skid by releasing your accelerator or brakes. As you release, look where you want to go and steer the vehicle in that direction.

Rollovers are much more likely to occur on gravel roads than on paved surfaces. They usually occur when the vehicle drifts to one side of the road and traction on one side of the vehicle is reduced. The natural reaction is to try to get back on track by quickly turning the steering wheel and slamming on the brakes. This can send the vehicle into a sideways skid, where it may tip and rollover before coming to a stop.

Safety tips

Change direction slowly

A sudden change in direction, such as swerving to avoid an object or animal on the road, may cause you to lose control of your vehicle.

Slow down

Stopping or speeding up too quickly is another concern when driving on gravel roads. By accelerating and braking slowly, you maintain better control of your vehicle and reduce the risk of having a collision. Although the maximum posted speed limit on gravel roads is 90 km/h, be sure to drive to conditions and reduce your speed when approaching blind intersections, hills or objects that obstruct your view.

Keep a safe following distance

Even if the visibility is good and the road is hard-packed, stay at least six seconds behind other vehicles. Increase this distance when conditions are not ideal, to reduce the danger from a cloud of dust obscuring your vision or flying rocks damaging your headlights and windshield.

Stay in the tracks

If you’re the only one on the gravel road, drive in the existing tire tracks. Even if the tracks are in the middle of the road, it is safer to drive in the tracks than to be too close to a deep ditch or a soft shoulder. If you approach an oncoming vehicle, reduce your speed, move to the right, and pass with caution.

Watch for wildlife

Wildlife or stray farm animals could be grazing in the ditch along a road. As you drive, scan the ditch so you can safely avoid animals. Be especially cautious in areas with a lot of bush near the road that could hide deer or farm animals.

When winter arrives, we can have a difficult time changing our driving habits to suit the conditions of snow and sleet. Inappropriate speed, reduced visibility, following too closely, sudden acceleration or braking, and poor vehicle maintenance are all reasons why Manitobans report more crashes in winter months.

Speed and slippery roads

In winter, traction is reduced affecting your ability to get out of snow, make a turn or stop. As a general rule, stopping distance is doubled on wet pavement, tripled on packed snow, and up to 10 times longer on an icy road. Ice on roads at -1C is twice as slippery as ice at -18C.

Slow down

Slowing down will maintain traction and decrease your total stopping distance. Posted speed limits are the maximum recommended speed for ideal conditions only.

Leave earlier

Avoid the temptation to drive too fast for conditions by giving yourself extra travel time.

Drive smoothly.

Ease up on the accelerator to avoid slipping in the wrong direction, or spinning your tires and getting stuck. Learn more about getting unstuck in this 60 Second Video. Brake gently to prevent loss of traction. When turning, steer the wheel just enough to follow the path you intend. Don’t brake and turn the wheel simultaneously – this can cause you to lose traction.

Brake sooner

Brake sooner than you normally would to allow more space to stop. Risk of injury is high at intersections where ice tends to build up, and where there may be pedestrians or other vehicles sliding into your path.

Leave distance between vehicles

Leave plenty of following distance between you and the vehicle in front. The recommended safe distance in ideal conditions is four seconds; on highways allow for six seconds. In poor conditions, leave more time. Learn how to determine a safe following distance.

Know how to recover from a skid

If your wheels start to slide, look and steer in the direction you want to go. Take your foot off the accelerator and off the brake. Gently steer and counter-steer until your vehicle lines up with where you want to go. As you begin to regain control, gently apply the brakes (for rear wheel skid) or the accelerator (for front wheel skid).

Don’t use cruise control

Cruise control isn’t intended for winter driving. If your vehicle loses traction, cruise control will cause the wheels to rapidly spin and accelerate at the worst possible time.

Reduced visibility

Visibility is greatly reduced in winter. Falling snow, white outs, exhaust from other vehicles, interior fog and snow banks all make it more difficult to scan the road and see everything around us.

Keep your headlights on

Your headlights on will help others to see you better in poor conditions. On bright sunny days use your visor or polarized sunglasses to reduce glare.

Clear snow and ice

Before you drive, clear snow and ice from your vehicle and be sure you can see through your windshield, windows and mirrors (see our 60 Second Driver on winter preparation). Make sure your light covers are clear, and remember to clear snow off the hood to prevent snow flying onto vehicles behind you.

Use caution around snow banks and snow clearing equipment

Take your time around snow banks (see our 60 Second Driver video on snow banks). Advance cautiously and lean forward to improve your view (‘creep and peep’). Stay well behind snow plows (learn more in our 60 Second Driver video on snow plows). Slow down and leave plenty of space between you and the snow plow. Always be prepared to stop suddenly.

Vehicle maintenance

A vehicle that is not properly maintained can leave you stranded on the side of the road. Learn more in our 60 Second Driver video on vehicle maintenance.

Proper maintenance

Keep your vehicle in good working condition. Follow the maintenance schedule in your owner manual and get a winter tune-up, including checking your fluid levels, windshield wipers, and battery often.

Tire condition

Check the condition and inflation of your tires, including your spare. Learn more about tire inflation in our 60 Second Video. Tires that are too worn have far less grip, which can lead to loss of control in slippery conditions. Although by law the minimum required tire tread depth is 1.6 mm (2/32 in), a depth above 4.8 mm (6/32 in) increases your safety in rain or snow.

Winter tires

Using of winter tires increases traction, making it easier to get out of the snow and can cut stopping distance by 25 per cent or more. MPI’s Winter Tire Program provides low-interest financing on winter tires. Learn more in this 60 Second Driver video on winter tires.

Severe conditions

Conditions on Manitoba highways during winter can quickly turn dangerous. Planning ahead may save your life. Check for weather forecasts and road condition alerts by visiting Manitoba511.ca for road information. Fill up on gas, anti-freeze and windshield washer fluid and travel with a fully-charged phone if you have one.

Emergency supplies

Keep a cold-weather survival kit in your vehicle. Include a candle and matches, water, non-perishable food, a first aid kit, flares or reflectors, booster cables and a shovel, an ice scraper, warm clothes, boots and blankets.

If you are stranded

If stranded, immediately contact 911 for assistance, turn on the vehicle’s four-way flashers, and remain in your vehicle until help arrives. Ensure that your tail-pipe is not covered or blocked with snow to reduce risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Book a community presentation

To book a presentation on winter driving for your community group, school or business, visit our Road Safety Community Presentations page for more information. For newcomers to Manitoba and newcomer organizations, an adapted “Welcome to Manitoba” presentation with winter driving information included is available.

Open a Claim