A man in a blue jacket standing in front of a mountain.

Jul 2, 2020

5 min. read

During the summer, Ontario’s roads can become prime stomping grounds for everything from coyotes to bull moose, creating a combination of cars and critters that often doesn’t mix. In 2017, there were more than 11,000 collisions between automobiles and wild animals in this province. Those crashes resulted in 365 human injuries and one death, says Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation. To avoid becoming one of those statistics, follow these expert pointers.

1. Keep your eyes peeled

When you’re on the road, constantly scan for animals, looking from one shoulder to the other, says Joshua Henry, a spokesperson with Ontario’s transport ministry. If you have a passenger, get them to be your spotter. And if you see wildlife, “slow down and pass carefully as they may suddenly bolt onto the road,” says Henry.

2. Come to a controlled stop

If an animal suddenly appears directly in front of your car, firmly grip the steering wheel and apply the brakes, says Steve Brown, a research associate at the Traffic Injury Research Foundation. Brown, who studies vehicle-animal collisions, says be wary of slamming on your brakes. Stopping too quickly could cause you to lose control of your car, which can be more dangerous than hitting an animal.

3. Don’t swerve

If you can’t stop in time, resist the urge to swerve. Instead, as difficult as it might be, experts say it’s far safer for you and your passengers to strike an animal. “If you swerve, there are all sorts of terrible things that can happen,” says Brown. In a worst case scenario, you could careen off the road or cross the median into oncoming traffic, two potentially fatal scenarios.

4. Beware of moose

The one animal that might be worthy of an exception to the no-swerving rule: a moose. A direct blow could take out its knees and send it crashing through your windshield. If you can’t come to a complete stop, Brown says you should consider aiming for the animal’s hindquarters, striking it an angle.

5. Call accidents in

If you hit a larger animal, like a deer or moose, Henry says you should pull over and report the collision to police or the Ministry of Natural Resources. Never try to move an injured animal—you could be bitten, kicked or gored.

Image credit: Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash

Share this article: