It is terrible! You are driving along without any problems one minute and a second later an animal darts into the road and you hit it. Traffic accidents involving animals are tragic and can be heartbreaking. However, animal crossing accidents cause millions of dollars in damage across North America each year, including motor vehicle accidents involving animals in Ontario.Victims of animal crossing accidents can suffer severe injuries, including broken bones, amputations, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries.
Fall is one of the top seasons for animal crossing accidents. According to Workplace Safety North, October to January is a peak time for accidents involving wildlife, with November being the most dangerous month. In Ontario alone, it is estimated that 14,000 collisions occur each year involving animals. To help combat the problem, Ontario constructed the first wildlife bridge as part of the Highway 69 expansion. Fences guide wildlife toward the bridge where animals can cross the highway safely. A wildlife detection system on Highway 17 near Sault Ste. Marie that warns drivers when an animal is near the road has also shown promise as a way to reduce the number of animal crossing accidents.
What Can I Do to Reduce the Risk of Animal Crossing Accidents?
It is important to remember that nothing the government does can prevent 100 percent of animal crossings. Therefore, it is up to you to take steps to reduce the risk of a collision with an animal. Some of the steps you can take to avoid an animal crossing accident include:
- What animals are in your area? Research the wildlife that is common in your area, so you know what types of animals may cross the road. While this may not prevent an animal from darting out in front of your vehicle, you will know what to be looking for if you know the animals that call the area home.
- Remember to remain alert even when driving in urban areas and neighborhoods. Pets can get out of homes or yards and run into the road.
- Many animals are very active in the early morning hours between 4:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. and during the evening hours between 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Increase your vigilance during these peak times.
- Whenever you see an animal crossing sign, you need to slow down and be ready for an animal to dart into the road without notice. Always watch the road ahead and scan the sides of the road for movement.
- An animal darting into the road is a shock. Fight the urge to slam on the breaks or swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid a collision. Apply the brakes to slow down as quickly as possible while maintaining control of the vehicle to avoid a collision with another vehicle.
- When driving at night, use the vehicle’s high beams when possible and keep a close watch for animals and glowing eyes on the side of the road.
- Sounding your horn when you see an animal may scare the animal and stop it from entering the road. However, blowing your horn will not always prevent an animal from crossing a road. Therefore, slow down and proceed as if the animal may dart in front of your vehicle until you are safely past the animal.
- If you cannot avoid a collision with an animal, pull over as quickly as possible and report the accident to local law enforcement officers. Do not try to move an injured animal. Even if the animal seems harmless, an injured animal can be very dangerous.
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