The Most Dangerous Summer Driving Hazards (And How to Avoid Them)

Don't let the lazy days of summer cause you to become too complacent behind the wheel. Here are five driving hazards that should remain on your radar during the warmer months.

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Summer driving hazards - wildlife on road
Photo: Peter Zenkl Photography /

Hitting a wild animal

As more cars travel the open road during summer, the risk of hitting a deer, moose or other wild animal increases. Collisions occur more often than you may realize—according to Desjardins, anywhere from four to eight large animal collisions take place every hour across Canada. To lower the risk of hitting a wild animal, turn on your high beams and be extra cautious from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to midnight. Don’t forget to wear your seat belt either, which could save your life if you are unlucky enough to crash into a large animal.

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Summer driving hazards - car tire hydroplaning on wet road
Photo: Milkovasa /

Hydroplaning in wet weather

Many accidents are the result of simply failing to adjust your driving behaviour to the conditions at hand. The old standbys you learned in driver’s ed—decreased speeds and leaving extra stopping distance between yourself and the car in front of you—still apply. Sometimes, however, it’s best to simply stop fighting the elements. Other tips for driving in the rain include:

  • Ensure your windshield and windows are clean (interior and exterior)
  • Check to make sure that all of your lights and turn signals are working properly
  • Always use your headlights when visibility is poor
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Car driving at nighttime
Photo: Shutterstock

Snoozing at the wheel

Don’t let the excitement of reaching the Cabot Trail or your cabin in the woods tempt you to drive when you’re drowsy. According to the Ottawa-based Traffic Injury Research Foundation, approximately 167,000 Ontario drivers may have been involved in at least one crash due to fatigued or drowsy driving in a single year. Drivers should get a minimum of six hours sleep before getting behind the wheel and schedule a break every two hours. Do not drive at times when you typically sleep, or you may increase the odds of falling prey to exhaustion.

Check out 20 car gadgets that can make driving safer.

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Silhouette of motorcyclist
Photo: Shutterstock

Injuring a bicyclist or motorcyclist

It’s easy to keep an eye on other cars while driving, but bicycles and motorcycles typically become afterthoughts. These two-wheeled vehicles are smaller than your car or truck, and they may be harder to spot in your mirror. For their part, bikers should always dress in bright clothing, obey traffic laws and wear a helmet.

Find out why you should always open your car door with your right hand.

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Car driving at speed - blurred
Photo: fujji /

Speeding and damaging your car

Speeding puts your insurance rates at risk—and can also severely ding your wallet if you damage your car but don’t have adequate collision coverage to help pay the repair bill. Not to mention, speeding is one of the greatest contributors to accidents at any time of year. Many people who slow down to a crawl in winter weather feel like it’s permissible to speed during the summer months simply because the road is free of snow and ice. Instead, take your time. A summer trip is something to savour. After all, winter will be back soon enough.

Next, check out the best road trips in Canada.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest