Bears, elk, moose, deer – big wildlife is a reality across a country as large and as forested as Canada. Our highways cut across their habitat, resulting in thousands of crashes each year. In fact, some statistics show that there are 4 to 8 car crashes in Canada every hour involving a large animal. You can reduce your risk of hitting a deer or moose with a bit of information and planning.

Know where and when

Wildlife vehicle collisions are most likely to occur where there is a nearby water source, like a creek, swamp, or drainage ditch. Animals tend to hang about where they can easily forage for food. Pay attention to long, straight stretches of road. Nearly half of all collisions with wildlife happen between 7:00 pm and midnight when visibility is poor.

On the road

When you’re behind the wheel, there are a few things you can do to minimize the risk of an animal collision:

  • Watch for the yellow diamond-shaped warning signs along the road
  • Reduce your speed, follow the limits and adjust for road conditions
  • Drive defensively and warn other drivers if you spot wildlife
  • Watch the side of the road for animals, movement, and shining eyes
  • Stay alert and don’t drive if tired

Off the road

Before you even get in your car, one of the most important things you can do ahead of time is keeping your vehicle well-maintained. Make sure your lights are clear of dirt and working properly, that your windshield and windows are clean, that your brakes are functioning, and that your horn works. You might need them all if an animal darts in front of you.

Know your wildlife

Get to know some of the behaviours and physical traits of animals you may encounter along the road. For example, deer often travel in herds, so if you see one, there may be others. Younger animals tend to stick close to a parent. And be extra cautious about moose – their height and weight is particularly dangerous in a collision. You can learn more about BC wildlife and their behaviours here.

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Michael Slater, K.C.
Michael Slater K.C. is the founding partner of Slater Vecchio. The majority of his practice is confined to traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord injury cases.