OPP: 10,000 drivers have crashes involving animals every year
Published Wednesday, June 11, 2014 1:09PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 11, 2014 7:01PM EDT
A new report from the OPP shows an alarming number of collisions involving wildlife on Ontario’s highways.
Those collisions don't just happen in rural areas. Just days ago, a Barrie woman hit a deer in south Barrie. It all happened in a matter of seconds and police say drivers need to be aware it can be a common occurrence. That crash puts Victoria Bailey in the company of about 10,000 other Ontario drivers who have run-ins with wild animals every year.
“I saw the one deer here, began to slow down, and then the other deer ran out from the field right here and that's when we hit it,” says Bailey.
“Honestly I really didn't know what was happening because I only saw the one deer. I thought I ran into a pole or something. I had no idea. The airbags just blew out.”
Luckily Bailey wasn't hurt. And the deer ran off into the bush.
OPP say they’ve responded to 60,000 animal-and-car collisions in the past five years.
Auto repair shops say they have seen a lot of damaged vehicles.
“I say yeah, for sure dozens in the last few months,” says Greg Sherman. “It's picked up after the winter.”
Some steps have been taken in recent years to prevent wildlife from crossing busy roads. Fencing has been placed along some highways to keep animals away. If an animal somehow finds itself on the road-side, it can get back over to the woods by climbing up a rock wall with no chance of getting back to the highway.
The Ministry of Transportation says it has this nearly three-meter high fence and jump-out gates lined along stretches of Highway 11 and Highway 26. Similar wildlife crossings are located along highway #69. The ministry also tries to cut back bush along roads to improve visibility for drivers. And there are warning signs posted across the province.
Police have a few tips for drivers:
- Scan the road ahead from shoulder to shoulder for animals like moose, elk, and deer, especially at dawn and dusk, as they search for food.
- Watch your speed and be careful when driving at night to give yourself more time to respond.
- Brake firmly if an animal is standing on or crossing the road, stopping if necessary. Swerving to avoid hitting a wild animal could end up in a loss of control and a more serious crash.
Don’t focus on the animal when trying to avoid it, but focus on an alternate route in case you can’t stop in time.
“If it's unsafe to avoid it, obviously you don't want to collide with oncoming traffic or have somebody behind,” says OPP Const. Graeme Knox. “So if you have to have (the collision) that's unfortunately the safer route, that's what you have to do.”
Even though animals like deer and moose can be seen at any time of the day, police say people should be extra careful at dawn and dusk. And remember deer usually travel in numbers so if you see one there are likely more nearby.