Unfortunately, sharing our province with these majestic creatures can cause collision problems.
The peak season for wildlife collisions is during late fall, mating season for Alberta’s wildlife. The animals are travelling far distances to find mates, and they are not concerned about the roads – which is why Alberta drivers need to be especially vigilant at this time.
What Happens When You See Wildlife in Your Headlights?
Your natural inclination would be to swerve. But swerving to miss an animal puts you at greater risk of turning into oncoming traffic, or hitting a tree, light post, mailbox or the ditch.
Take your foot off the gas, and keep your vehicle on a straight course. The damage from hitting an animal will probably be less than hitting another vehicle or a tree
Hitting an animal versus an inanimate object comes with vehicle insurance ramifications:
- Hitting a wild animal is covered under your comprehensive coverage (if you have it) – so your premiums should not go up
- Hitting another car or a tree falls under your collision insurance, and may cause your premiums to increase
Tips to Avoid Hitting a Wild Animal
- Be especially careful during October/November when Alberta wildlife is most active
- Keep your eyes peeled for signs that indicate frequent animal crossings and slow down when you see them.
- If you do see one animal, chances are there are more nearby, so exercise extreme caution
- Use your high beams when possible to see animals that are further away. Sometimes you may see the animal’s eyes reflected from your high beams.
- Use extra caution during dusk and dawn when the animals are most active.
- If you do see animals on the road, slow right down. Use your horn to sound short blasts at them to encourage them to move away. Stay in your car as they can be unpredictable and may attack.
- Keep your windshield and headlights clean for better visibility.
- Slow down around curves in the road until you can see what’s ahead.
What to do if you hit a wild animal
- If you can, move your vehicle to a safe place. Pull off the road and turn on your hazard lights. It’s best to stay in your car, especially if it’s dark and other motorists can’t see you.
- Call the police.
- Take photos for insurance. If or when it’s safe to leave your car, take pictures of the road, your surroundings, vehicle damage and any injuries sustained. If other drivers stop, ask for their
- Don’t approach the animal. A frightened, wounded deer or moose could panic and harm you.
- Check if your vehicle is safe to drive. Look for leaking fluid, loose parts, tire damage, or broken lights. If your vehicle seems unsafe, call for a tow.
- Call your insurance advisor. Your advisor will be able to advise you on next steps in submitting your claim.
Hitting a wild animal with a vehicle is a common occurrence. Understanding the animals’ patterns and paying heed will go a long way towards avoiding an unfortunate encounter with Alberta’s wildlife.