As many as 1 in 5 motor vehicle crashes in Canada are caused by drivers hitting wildlife on the road. Springtime brings animals out of hibernation to mate, and this increased activity level raises the chances of you having a car vs. wildlife encounter. Read on for important advice on dealing with this dangerous phenomenon.
- Stay focused on the road. Animals are quick, so keen attention is vital. Wooded areas are no time to let your attention drift, and your quick response to a darting animal could save more than one life. Look for warning signs about wildlife crossings and be especially alert in those areas. Always wear your seat belt.
- If you see one animal, there are probably more, since wild animals tend to travel together. Animals grazing by the side of the road could be spooked by your car and unexpectedly run into your path. If you see animals on the roadside, blow your horn to warn the animal away. Use your high beams at night, unless other vehicles are oncoming. Warn other drivers with your emergency blinkers.
- If an animal does run out, do not swerve. Instead, brake hard and quick. Swerving to avoid the animal is dangerous, since you could lose control and veer into oncoming traffic or off the road into a tree, a gully or into standing water. Hitting an animal is bad, but hitting a solid object can cause serious injuries and damage your vehicle a lot more.
- An exception to the swerving rule is an encounter with a moose or bison, either of which could weigh as much as 1200 pounds and are seldom afraid of horns or approaching vehicles. Make sure to keep your speed low, and if you do need to swerve try to go onto the shoulder of the road (if safe), instead of oncoming traffic.
- If your vehicle cannot be driven safely after a collision, put on your blinkers. If you can safely leave the car after calling for help, stay well away from the roadway while waiting. Do not approach an injured animal, because they are extremely dangerous.
- Wildlife collisions should be covered under the comprehensive coverage part of your policy. Your insurance company may require you to file a police report, but even if it's not required, it could help speed up your claim process.
The unfortunate collision between you and an animal on the road is a serious event, but the damages could be minimized if the safety guidelines above are followed. For more information on collision repair, contact companies like Freeway Auto Body Ltd.