D’oh! A deer! How to reduce road risks

Wildlife driving hazards

Reindeer on Road

The bears are awake, there are baby animals running about and wildlife is actively on the move. While spotting a deer, moose or ram can be a very exciting moment on a car trip, there are hazards involved when you are sharing the road with animals. In fact, there are four to eight vehicle collisions with large animals every hour in Canada.

It would be great is animals would stick to the trees and fields, but roads provide them with an easy travel corridor just like us. Really, roads are just fancy paths that we all use to get to where we are headed.

Luckily, there are some things that you can do to reduce your risk while you are driving.

  • First and foremost - pay attention. We're sure you wouldn't be texting and driving, or putting on make-up or doing anything else that would distract you when you're driving because it's illegal, it's dangerous and you're a better driver than that. So, while you are focused on driving, pay attention to the roadway and ditches. Look for shiny eyes and silhouettes of animals.
  • Watch for warning signs. We know that most deer can't read, but those wildlife crossing signs are placed in areas where wildlife is known to travel near the roadways. Stay alert and slow down in these areas.
  • Use your lights. Most species are active at dawn and dusk, which is when visibility is poor for driving. During these times, make sure you have your lights on (and even use your high beams if there isn't oncoming traffic to worry about). This will help you spot the light reflection in the animal's eyes.
  • Slow down. If you are in an area where you know there is a lot of wildlife, or if you have spotted an animal, reduce your speed and be prepared to stop.
  • Expect the unexpected. This is easier said than done, but it's important to remember that animals are unpredictable. If the animal has already crossed the road, it may turn back or start running in a different direction. There may also be more than one animal nearby.
  • Don't swerve. If there is an animal in your path, firmly place your foot on the brake. Do not swerve your vehicle to avoid the animal. This could cause you to injure yourself, run into another vehicle or even flip your vehicle.

Across Alberta, most municipalities have introduced fences, warning signs, roadside reflectors, and vegetation control along highways to help reduce run-ins with wild animals. If you keep your wits about you and pay attention you can stay safe and help make sure that all of the humans and deer make it home safe to their families.