Collisions between cars and wildlife can result in serious vehicle damage, personal injury or even death. In Ontario, one in every 17 motor-vehicle collisions involves wildlife. Last month in cottage country the number was as high as one in three collisions. This number is on the rise due to climate change, human encroachment and an increase in some wildlife populations. While wildlife can be unpredictable, there are some precautions you can take while driving to help you steer clear of wildlife on the road.
- Watch for wildlife-warning signs. The sign warns of a hazard ahead, and advises drivers to be cautious. These signs are posted where a history of wildlife collisions has occurred so reduce your speed.
- Drivers and passengers should actively watch for wildlife on the road, in the ditch or on the shoulder. Watch for shining eyes, which will be your headlights shining off the animal's eyes. Moose on the other hand are tall so most vehicles headlights are less likely to reflect off their eyes.
- Flicker your headlights to on coming vehicles to warn them of wildlife ahead.
- Use extra caution at dusk and dawn. Peak collision times are 5a.m to 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. This is then deer and moose are the most active.
- Be mindful of the fall mating and migration season. Many animals look for mates in the fall and tend to travel and cross the road more frequently. Seasonal migration also means more critters are on the move.
- Reduce speed. Speed is one of the most common factors in vehicle collisions. Driving fast than the posted speed limit reduces the driver's ability to steer away from objects on the roadway.
- Stay alert. If you spot wildlife while driving, slow down and pass carefully. Most animals such as deer travel in groups, driving slowly will give you the chance to stop in time in case another animal in the group decides to follow. Wildlife collisions can be unpredictable and often occur with little warning.
- Moose may escape the path of a vehicle by running along the road. This is a serious hazard for other drivers. If you encounter a moose while driving pull over to the curb, if it is safe to do so. If pulling over is not an option, slow down to a very low speed until the animal leaves the road.
- Maintain your vehicle- Keep headlights, signal lights, and tail lights in good working order.
- Stay in control. If wildlife is crossing or standing on the road, firmly break. Do not assume an animal will move out of the way.