If you drive in Ontario, outside of major urban centres, you’ve seen signs for wildlife crossings.
You also might have wondered, are wildlife collisions actually a big risk? How can they be avoided and what should you do if you accidentally hit an animal? Let’s answer those questions.
How Much of an Actual Risk Are Wildlife Collisions?
In Ontario, wildlife collisions are a real risk. Since 2013, 20 people have been killed and 2,613 people have been injured in collisions with wildlife on Ontario roads1. There has been 145 injuries and one death.
How to Avoid Hitting Wildlife.
You can reduce the chance of a wildlife collision when driving on roads where this is a possibility by doing the following.
- Pay attention to the signs. They are there for a reason.
- Drive the speed limit or slower.
- Slow down at night. Use your high beams when it’s safe to do so.
- Be especially vigilant at dawn and dusk and in the autumn. Collisions with larger animals are most common in the fall during mating season.
- Scan the roadsides for animals about to cross. At night watch for shining eyes.
- Staff Sergeant Carolle Dionne, Ontario Provincial Police spokeswoman, told the Globe and Mail, a driver who sees a large animal in their path should “Look in your rear-view mirror (to check if there is any traffic behind them) apply the brakes immediately and steer straight until you have a chance to slow down to where you can maneuver around the animal.”
- Swerve. This can cause a much larger accident.
- Stop and get out of your car to encourage the animal across the road (or take a picture).
What to do if you get into a more serious collision with larger wildlife.
- Pull over to a safe spot and turn on your hazards.
- Call 911 if needed.
- Stay away from the animal. You might want to help. Don’t. A wild and injured animal can be very dangerous.
- Call local police if the animal is in the road and/or needs to be moved.
- Check your vehicle for damage.
- Call a tow truck if needed.
- Report the incident to your insurance company.
Collisions with deer or other animals must be reported to authorities if there is any personal injury, and/or if damage to the vehicle exceeds $2,000.
Are You Covered?
A collision with a large animal can cause major vehicle damage.
You are probably covered if you have collision and comprehensive coverage. Collision coverage provides protection for damage caused by an accident. Comprehensive coverage provides protection for non-accident related claims. Both are optional and both have a deductible.
Be alert, drive safely, don’t speed, and remember that we share the roads with the wildlife of Ontario. Keep yourself and wildlife safe.
The Globe and Mail.
Published, July 2, 2018.