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Watch Out For Wildlife

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August 11, 2014


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Watch Out For Wildlife

Watch Out For Wildlife

Safe driving isn’t only about distracted driving, driving too fast or driving while intoxicated. There are other things, usually beyond our control that can challenge the safe driving skills of drivers on our roadways. Something we sometimes forget about, while we’re heading north to cottages and vacation spots is wildlife. It is a very real danger. In Ontario alone, nearly 60,000 collisions with wildlife were reported to the OPP between 2009 and 2013.

These collisions can be pretty serious too, and not just for the animal. Of those 60,000 reported collisions, 19 deaths and 2,200 serious injuries occurred as a result.

It’s not just large wildlife such as deer, bears and moose that we need to watch out for. Accidents can be caused by small animals too. Recently a woman in Ontario stopped to help baby ducks on the road, causing a terrible accident. She was convicted of two counts of criminal negligence causing death after a motorcyclist and his passenger slammed into the back of her car.

Hitting an animal with our vehicle is never a good experience. It can be traumatizing, or at the very least, unsettling. It’s not something a driver ever forgets. Aside from killing an animal, vehicles can be destroyed, and drivers and their passengers can sustain serious injuries.

Wildlife can appear at any time and in any place on roads. Often there are deer-and moose-crossing signs, but those simply warn of frequent sightings. Drivers should be alert and cautious at all times, on all roads, especially at night, as well as dusk and dawn. Keep scanning the road ahead, keep your speed reasonable for the conditions, and consider slowing down in areas with wildlife warning signs. Keep your windshield and headlights clean, and use your high beams at night when there is no oncoming traffic. Be especially alert in rural areas.

Have deer whistles mounted on your vehicle? Some claim that their ultrasonic frequencies work fine to warn deer of approaching vehicles, but testing has been inconclusive so far.

Should you see a deer near the road, slow right down! It could leap in front of your vehicle at any time. These animals often travel in groups, so if you see one, there may be several others nearby. Brake firmly, but do not swerve or you might lose control of your vehicle.

Should you hit a large animal with your vehicle, such as a deer, elk or moose; report it to the police or to the Ministry of Natural Resources. You’ll want to take photographs to help with your insurance claim. Insurance claims when hitting wildlife can be tricky. If an animal is in motion when your vehicle strikes it, it would be covered under your comprehensive insurance as a no-fault claim and subject to that policy’s deductible. If the animal is stationary, the claim would be considered at-fault and covered under the collision part of your insurance policy.

If you’re heading up north, or home from there, drive safely and watch out for wildlife along the road!

By Linda

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