Wildlife On Alberta Roads
What do I do if I hit a deer?
This is actually becoming a rather loaded question, especially in the fall. In Alberta, encountering wildlife on the roads is extremely common. You will often see rabbits, deer, elk, and even the occasional moose or bear. Regardless of the animal, if you encounter one while driving the odds of a collision increases the larger the animal becomes. Ensure that you are aware of your surroundings and that you are fully prepared when it comes to taking on wildlife as part of your driving experience.
1 Watch For More
When you see one deer, there are often many you don’t see as they rarely travel alone. Slow down, and keep alert as there can be an instance where one or more of the group could dart across the road. Use your headlights to your advantage, their eyes will brightly reflect any light to make them easier to spot, and if you see dark spots where there shouldn’t be wildlife may be passing through.
2 Check The Signs
The road signs are there for a reason, so make sure you don’t drive by in a daze. The deer caution signs are placed in high traffic areas for wildlife, so know that you are likely to see some action and slow down your driving accordingly.
3 Honk & Make Noise
Some say this works, others say that it may do nothing for you. If you are approaching an animal on the road use long clear blasts of your horn to alert to oncoming danger. However, do not rely on this method, as deer are unpredictable. They can dart out and any moment, so if possible give yourself the time to get around safely.
4 Pack Mentality
Deer are typically active when your vision is the most strained, dusk and dawn are the most common times for animals to be mobile. Combined with the fact that between October and January is mating season, these animals are definitely traveling after the sun sets. Keep your eyes peeled, and use your headlights appropriately to scan the roads and surrounding bush for animals, especially after dark.
5 Wear Your Seatbelt
This goes without saying right, and for goodness sake keep your feet off of the dashboard. Wearing your seatbelt will protect you further in the event of a collision, or a dangerous situation when trying to avoid an animal on the road.
6 Lane Placement
When driving through wildlife heavy areas, try to situate your vehicle more towards the inside of the lane, away from the side of the road. It gives you more reaction time if an animal is startled and darts onto the road.
7 Remain In Control
If you are in a situation where you may collide, and you have ample stopping time do so with conviction. Brake calmly, and firmly while staying in your lane. Panic can cause you to swerve, which could result in losing total control of your vehicle or worse yet colliding with something stationary. By remaining in your current lane you have further control, as deer are unpredictable you could unintentionally swerve into their alternate path.
8 Vehicle Maintenance
If you’re going to venture out on the roads, ensure that your vehicle is in safe and working order. Maintain a clean non-restrictive windshield, so that you can see your surroundings. Take precautions with your headlights, and do a full walk around your vehicle before heading onto those highways.
9 Motorcycle Riding Solo
Same goes for motorcycles, if a collision is going to happen do not swerve, and lock up your breaks. Break hard, but do so calmly ensuring that you’re stabilized if an impact occurs. Make sure that you’re wearing the gear, and that people know where you’re riding.
10 Motorcycle Riding In Groups
When encountering wildlife in a group setting, spread out carefully. If a collision happens, this will ensure that not all of the riders will be taken down. Use hand signals, or communication devices when traveling in groups to keep all of your fellow riders in the know.
Well, $#!%, I’m about to hit a deer, what do I do?
This obviously isn’t the ideal outcome, but sometimes it’s safer to hit an animal appropriately instead of swerving and possibly flipping your vehicle resulting in a fatality. After consulting other drivers, and experts here are some tips to consider if you’re faced with hitting a deer on the road.
1 Where Do You Want To Go
Just like basic drivers ed, look where you want to go, not at the animal. This will allow you to remain focused on driving through, not into.
2 Where Is It Coming From
When deciding where to go, choose the direction where the animal came from, not where you think it’s going to go, or not go.
Just like the wildlife itself! If a collision seems inevitable try not to hit it head-on. An animal coming through a windshield can be fatal. Brake firmly, and steer your vehicle slightly to hit the animal at an angle, while letting up on the break before impact. They say that this causes the front end of your vehicle to rise, and lessens the chance of an animal coming through your windshield.
If you are in a collision or come across injured wildlife, approach with caution.
A wounded animal can be very dangerous. Pull off the road, and turn on your hazards to warn other drivers of the conditions. If you or any passengers are injured, call 911. Report that it was an animal collision, the status of the animal and if it needs to be collected.
Once you have contacted 911, and those who need to know, call BlueCircle Insurance. We’ll make sure that you’re not only alright but that a claim will be taken care of right away.
For those that are interested click here for more information on motorcycle riding and wildlife, as some of these stories can really put your commute into perspective.