Drivers may experience wildlife collisions any time of year, and they can be unnerving. Following these safety precautions can help to avoid or minimize damage when you can't make a clean escape from large wildlife on the road.
“Wildlife collisions are very common in Saskatchewan, and in some cases are difficult to avoid,” said Tyler McMurchy, media manager with SGI. “But there are some steps drivers can take to avoid being in a collision.”
Scanning the road from shoulder to shoulder is the best way for the driver to remain alert to any deer or other wildlife. If a driver does see wildlife on the road, it is best to slow down and be cautious as the animal may dart out onto the road.
If driving at night look out for glowing eyes, the high beam reflection may be an indicator that a critter is present but may not be visible.
“Pay particular attention when you are entering those zones where you see those yellow wildlife warning signs, but of course, wildlife collisions can happen virtually anywhere people drive in the province," said McMurchy. "So, maintaining that level of alertness is always a good idea.”
In these areas, it is best to reduce vehicle speed and be extra diligent when observing the surroundings.
McMurchy said it is important to note that if one animal is crossing, there is a good chance more may follow. Staying alert, and observing your surroundings is the best defense while driving. The use of the vehicle's horn may be necessary to scare them off.
When encountering a large animal on the road it's important to remain calm, braking and coming to a safe stop is ideal, however, it is not always possible. If the animal appears suddenly, brake firmly and stay in control of the vehicle. Swerving can have repercussions, including vehicle roll-overs, driving into a ditch, or crashing into oncoming traffic.
“That can cause much more damage, than hitting the animal,” said McMurchy. “Unfortunately, sometimes hitting the animal is the best option for the driver."
It is best to aim the vehicle in the direction the animal came from, not where they are headed. The driver can also minimize impact by aiming for a partial hit to the animal instead of hitting it full force, in the center of the body.
“Letting up on your brake right before the collision which causes the front of your vehicle to rise and will reduce the chance of that animal going through your windshield,” said McMurchy.
Hitting an animal can be a traumatic experience for the driver. When a wildlife collision occurs, the driver should pull the vehicle over, put on their hazard lights, and regain their composure. Then if safe to do so, get out and assess the damage to the car.
“If it is still drivable then you can carry on, and then report your claim,” said McMurchy.
If the injured animal is still in the vicinity, do not approach it.
"We do not recommend approaching an injured animal, they can be unpredictable, they can be dangerous, and it's not something we would recommend to drivers," said McMurchy.
If any significant damage to a vehicle occurs, the driver should contact local police or the RCMP. If any injuries occur to a human, they should call 911 for assistance.
When submitting the claim to SGI or other insurance companies, wildlife collisions are treated as a single-vehicle collision.