Wildlife Road Safety Tips

It’s that time of year to keep a watchful eye out for wildlife on or near the road. In 2014, 48% of crashes on Alberta rural highways involved an animal and 4% of those crashes resulted in human casualties.

Here are some safety tips to help you reduce your chances of a collision when travelling in rural areas.

Before You Head Out

  • Improve your visibility by keeping the vehicle’s windshield clean inside and out.
  • Make sure all your vehicle lights are working and keep the headlights clean and visible.

Watch For Signs

  • Obey speed limits and drive at a speed appropriate to conditions. Driving at or below posted speed limits, will give you more time to react or stop if an animal suddenly appears in your path.
  • Reduce your speed prior to a curve, when reaching the crest of a hill or in wildlife-populated areas. The severity of a collision increases as speed increases, which could result in serious injury or death.
  • If the driver ahead of you is braking or slowing, decrease your speed accordingly, as they may be responding to a risk you haven’t seen yet.

Keep An Eye Out

  • Look well ahead and scan the road and ditches for signs of movement. Many wildlife species are attracted to easy access to vegetation along the side of the road and in the ditch (especially the early onset of vegetation in early spring) and, at certain times of the year, roads also provide a source of salt.
  • Wildlife are more active at dawn, dusk and at night. In Alberta, more than one-third of collisions involving animals occurred between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.

If You See Wildlife On Or Beside The Road

  • Look ahead for oncoming vehicles, and check your mirrors to see what’s behind you.
  • Slow down and blow your horn with a series of short bursts – this may encourage an animal to move out of the roadway.
  • Look around for other animals as some species travel in groups.
  • Leave plenty of room when driving by – a frightened animal is unpredictable and may run in any direction.
  • Use a controlled braking technique if you have to stop to avoid hitting an animal. If you can’t stop for a large animal, swerve around the animal’s hind end. Heading in the same direction the animal is going in will increase your chance of a crash.

Be careful when driving in urban areas that are close to river valleys, parks, wooded areas, open green space, or city outskirts as you can still encounter wildlife that cross the road.

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I am a Fleet Safety Operations Manager with 30 years of experience teaching traffic safety across five provinces, and in four countries. Outside of work, I am an avid traveller, a fervent Flames fan, and a Mustang enthusiast.