Avoiding Wildlife Collisions

Edited by Admin
Avoiding Wildlife Collisions

Avoid Wildlife Collisions

In Canada, winter driving can be treacherous. Ice, snow, and reduced visibility can turn a routine trip into a tragedy. But don’t forget that even after all the snow has melted, Canadian highways can be dangerous. In the spring, summer, and fall, wildlife is more plentiful, and a collision with a large animal such as a moose or a deer often causes serious injury or death. Statistics show that collisions with wildlife are on the rise – in Ontario alone, there are more than 14,000 reported collisions each year, with many more going unreported.

Of course, the best way to stay safe is to avoid colliding with an animal, but this is not always possible. In this article, we’ll look at some preventative tips, but also discuss what steps to take if your vehicle does collide with a large animal.

Preventing a Collision

First, make sure that you’re observing all of the rules of the road. Drive sober; always wear a seatbelt. Make sure that your vehicle is in good working order, with effective brake pads and good headlights that are properly set. Keep your windshield and lights clean. Drive the speed limit, and drive more slowly at night when visibility is lessened.

Next, avoid peak hours when wildlife is on the road. Dawn and dusk are the times when most collisions with animals occur.

As you drive sure to watch for signs that announce deer or moose crossings. They indicate areas where animals are known to frequent, and you should slow down accordingly. Other areas where deer or moose may be present include areas where vegetation is dense. Some other problem areas are locations are where creeks intersect roads. Be extra vigilant on hills and on curves where an animal may leap out and surprise you. Surprisingly, long straight stretches can also be high-collision areas, because people tend to speed and pay less attention to the road.

Scan both sides of the road as you drive. If you have passengers, ask them to watch, too. Even small children can be a help with spotting wildlife.

If you see an animal at the side of the road, don’t assume that it will remain there; animals area unpredictable. Also, if you see one animal, it’s probable that there are others in the area; deer and moose tend to travel in groups. If you have to slow or stop for an animal that’s on the road, wait to see if others are about to follow it.

At night, you will be much less able to see wildlife on the sides of the road. With deer you may be able to notice the reflection of your headlights in their eyes; moose, however, are usually too tall. If you’re driving at night, stay alert! If you find yourself nodding off, pull over and rest until you are able to give your full attention to the road.

What to Do If an Animal Is in the Road

Sometimes, no matter how hard we look, we are surprised by the sudden appearance of a deer or a moose on the road ahead. When this happens, you must make a split-second decision about what to do. Depending on the situation, you may choose either to brake or to swerve around the animal.

Generally speaking, it’s better to brake, since swerving can have unpredictable results. Swerving may, for example, put you into the path of other vehicles on the road, or result in your car rolling into the ditch. However, in the case of a moose (which can weigh up to 500 kg), the impact can be not unlike hitting a brick wall. When a moose is struck, it often rolls over the hood and roof of the car, increasing the chances that you will be injured. If circumstances are right, swerving can be the right choice.

If you choose to brake, hang on tight to the steering wheel and aim for the tail end of the animal. That way, hopefully, by the time your vehicle reaches that spot, the animal will have moved on. (If it seems that you are going to hit the animal, angle the car for a glancing blow rather than a direct hit.) Let up on the brake just before impact to reduce the chance of the animal coming through the windshield.

If You Hit an Animal

If you are able, pull off the road and put on your hazard lights. Illuminate the animal with your headlights to warn other vehicles that there is a carcass or wounded animal on the road.

If you are injured, call for medical attention. Alert the RCMP or local conservation officers, and wait for them to arrive. Be prepared to describe your location using the highway number and names of nearby towns.

Only attempt to remove the carcass if you are sure that the animal is dead and confident that you have the ability to do so. Injured animals can be very dangerous, so do not leave your vehicle if the animal is still alive.

Drive with an eye out for wildlife – save your life, and theirs!