5 Autumn Hazards and How to Handle Them - Car accidents increase in the fall
For many Ontario residents autumn is the nicest season to be out on the roads. The colours have begun to change, the temperatures are wonderful, bugs are gone. In short it is the best time of year to be outdoors. Combine autumn and COVID restrictions, and going for family walks outdoors has become the perfect activity.
OPP are issuing warnings though. There are many autumn hazards on the roads and the OPP want them to be at the top of mind when you head out in your car. Here are 5 Autumn Hazards and how you should handle them
- Wildlife – OPP report that there are approximately 13,000 wildlife strikes in Ontario every year. The Ontario Road Safety Annual Report (2017) reported that 2 fatalities and 410 personal injuries were caused by them. Crashes particularly with moose and deer had an estimated cost of over $1 billion in 2017. They account for nearly 50% of all collisions in northern Ontario. 1 in every 17 motor vehicle collisions involves a wild animal in Ontario.
The province has undertaken many steps to help reduce risks including building wildlife bridges over highways, fencing stretches of highway that are new and in danger zones, installing signage and wildlife detection systems that light up in real time when large mammal movement is detected at the roadside.
To lessen your risk of animal collisions and personal injury you should slow down, pay attention to the shoulders of the road particularly in areas that are signed for wildlife activity. Drive defensively. Do not swerve for small animals as there are many collisions caused by people losing control.
Avoid all large mammals particularly moose, deer and bear by braking. Mosse are so tall that they tend to sheer the roof off of cars. Hitting large mammals is tied to a high risk of personal injury or death.
In extremely high-risk areas avoid driving at dawn, dusk and at night when large mammals are impossible to see.
If you hit an animal pull of the road in a safe location and examine yourself, passengers and vehicle. If the animal is not dead but is suffering call the police to destroy it humanely. Do not ever approach an injured wild animal. They carry rabies and other disease; they are highly stressed, and they can easily injure or kill you. If you have injury or significant damage call the police for help.
- Fallen Leaves. The very things that we often are enjoying can cause accidents on the road. They can hide road faults (potholes) and loose gravel. When they are wet they make roads extremely slippery increasing stop distances and causing loss of control in bends and curves. Allos increased distances to stop and slow down.
- Reduced Daylight – The days are shorten, nights are longer, and the dark can make driving more dangerous. Turn on your lights and if you are out walking or running wear some reflective gear.
- Sunlight glare – the low angle of the sun can make seeing while driving in the morning and late afternoon very challenging. Coloured and fallen leaves can cause the roads to look mottled and hide potholes and other objects, people and even vehicles on the roads.
- Early frost and ice on the roads. Winter comes every year but the first ‘taste’ of it always causes many car accidents. Watch the forecast and the roads. Take care on bridges and overpasses that ice up. Put your snow tires on as recommended and slow down.
Photo by V. Rea – Wildlife Collision Prevention Program