10,000 Drivers Hit Animals Every Year in Ontario
The number of car/animal collisions on Ontario's roads and highways is large, expensive and dangerous. In southern Ontario we are fortunate to have smaller animals like deer, racoons and skunks wandering on the roads. You don’t need to go farther north though before real hazards to human life like moose and elk become a danger.
The OPP report that about 10,000 accidents happen in Ontario every year involving animals and cars. The MTO reorts that there has been an increase of 43% in collisions over a 10 year period. Many crashed go unreported. This represents a danger to humans and wildlife, and is costly for drivers and insurance companies. Auto repair shops regularly fix damaged vehicles with claims from $100 to complete write offs. In the worst cases the driver or passenger dies.
The province and municipalities have taken steps to prevent wildlife crossing in some areas by fencing with jump out gates. They are more common on Hwys 11, 69 and 26 where the animal strike numbers are extremely high. In provinces like New Brunswick there are massive 8’ high fences that run along the stretches of highways, with gates that allow animals to get off the highways but not to get on them. The cost of the fencing outweighs the cost to drivers each year. Signage warning drivers of dangerous areas is placed along stretches of road that have higher rates of animal collisions as well.
Police have the following advice for drivers:
- Always be scanning ahead on the road from shoulder to shoulder for deer, moose and elk particularly at dawn and dusk
- Use your high beams where you can and watch for shining eyes
- If you see one, be alert for others
- If you see one slow down and sound your horn to get it off the road
- Regulate your speed in posted areas and at night to give yourself more time to stop
- Brake hard if there is an animal in your path but don’t swerve to avoid the animal as you risk a more dangerous crash by losing control of your car
- Look at where you want to be in the road, don’t focus on the animal
- If you want to watch the animals pull off at a safe place. Don’t park at the side of the road.
- If you hit a large animal report the collision to the police or MNR. Never move an injured animal or approach it. If it is still alive contact the police immediately to be humanely euthanized.
If you do hit an animal and damage your car report it to the police and to your insurance company. The damage should be covered under your policy under the comprehensive portion.