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How to Drive Safely Around Wildlife

Driving tips for avoiding collisions with animals

By: Paula Kozbial / 31.10.2011 / Comments | Print | Email

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Driving tips for avoiding collisions with animals

Collisions between cars and wild animals can result in serious vehicle damage, personal injury or even death. In Ontario alone, one out of every 17 motor-vehicle collisions involves wildlife, and that number is on the rise due to climate change, human encroachment and an increase in some wildlife populations. Tosh Gierek, Wildlife Management Coordinator with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources says "While animal behaviour 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 road signs
These signs are posted where a history of wildlife collisions has occurred so reduce your speed.

Exercise extra caution at dusk and dawn
Peak collision times are 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., when deer and moose are most active. "They stay relatively low-key during the day, sleep at night and move to and from their night time bedding areas," Gierek explains.

Be mindful of the fall mating and migration season
Many animals look for mates in the autumn, thus they tend to travel and cross roads more frequently. Seasonal migration also means more critters are on the move.

Reduce speed and stay alert
If you spot wildlife while you're driving, slow down and pass carefully as precaution. As most animals travel in groups, driving slowly will give you the chance to stop in case other animals decide to follow. "Wildlife collisions can be unpredictable and often occur with little warning. Reducing speed and paying full attention while driving is the best way to stay safe," Gierek says.

Brake for moose
These animals may escape the path of a vehicle by running along the road-a serious hazard for other drivers. If you encounter a moose while driving, British Columbia's Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure suggests pulling over to the curb, if safe to do so, or slowing down to a very low speed until the animal leaves the road.

Stay in control
If wildlife is crossing or standing on the road, brake firmly. Do not assume an animal will move out of the way. Also, never swerve suddenly as this could cause your vehicle to veer out of control or head into oncoming traffic.

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