Sturgeon County – The Alberta Motor Association is hoping Albertans will take a little extra caution and be on the lookout for wildlife. The organization reports that the highest-risk period for vehicles to encounter wildlife, particularly in rural areas, is from late October to late November.
Alberta Transportation statistics indicate 26 people were killed and another 1,800 were injured in collisions involving animals between 2005 and 2009.
“Many wildlife collisions are avoidable, simply by reducing speed,” said Scott Wilson, Senior Policy Analyst with the Alberta Motor Association in a release Monday. “When you speed, you create two problems for yourself: you increase your stopping distance and decrease your time to react. When you factor in the unpredictable behaviour of wildlife during mating season, serious injuries can occur for drivers, and wildlife rarely survive.”
To help prevent animal-related collisions, the AMA recommends the following:
Slow down. The faster you’re going, the greater the distance you’ll need to stop. Obey posted speed limits as that will give you more time to react or stop if an animal suddenly appears in your path. The severity of a collision increases exponentially as speed increases, making the potential for death or serious injury more significant with even a slight increase. For example, the injury severity of a crash at 60 kilometres per hour is 36 times the severity of a crash at 10 km/h.
Watch for animals in both rural and urban areas. With urban encroachment and expansion into habitats, wildlife can be found anywhere. Don’t assume there is no risk just because most of your driving is within city or town limits.
Pay attention to posted signs. Triangular yellow signs posted by the side of the road indicate specific areas where animals have been known to cross. Use extra caution when you see these signs and watch for animals at the side of the road, as they may suddenly bolt across your path.
Try to drive during daylight hours. Animal migration happens most often during early morning and twilight hours. By restricting your driving to daylight you’ll be reducing your risk of a wildlife collision.
Watch for groups. Often the one you see is not the one you’ll hit. Animals often travel in groups, so if you see one animal near the road or crossing, others may be close by.
Know when not to swerve. If an animal suddenly comes across your path, brake firmly but do not swerve or leave your lane as you may cause a collision with another vehicle. It is often better to hit a small animal that swerve at highway speeds. Swerving can also take you over an embankment or into oncoming traffic.
Reduce the impact. Angular hits and braking firmly can lessen the impact if you are unable to avoid hitting an animal. If you are about to collide with a moose and cannot avoid a direct impact, duck as low as you can as moose tend to flip onto the windshield and can crush your vehicle’s roof.