It’s that time of year again—deer become more active as they search for a mate and the OPP puts out advisories regarding the increase in deer/vehicle collisions. The Ministry of Transportation has taken special measures to reduce these collisions in some parts of cottage country, like installing fences and highway lighting, posting warning signs, and even draining salty ponds located beside highways, since they may attract wildlife. The first large-animal wildlife overpass was even completed this past spring on Highway 69, just south of Sudbury.
Still, according to the Ministry, these types of collisions are increasing each year. Based on those reported, one of every 17 motor vehicle collisions involves a wild animal and 90 percent of these collisions occur on two-lane roads, outside of urban areas. So what should you do if you meet a deer or another large animal on the highway? Here are five tips that can reduce your risk on the road and will hopefully keep you—and the deer—safe.
1. Avoid peak hours: Try to stay off the roads at dusk or dawn, which is when deer are most active and wildlife collisions most often occur.
2. Slow down: If a deer crosses the road in front of you, slow down and assume that there are more following, as deer tend to travel together. Even if the deer hasn’t made it onto the road yet, you should still slow down and pass carefully—they’ve been known to suddenly bolt onto the road.
3. Scan the road: At night, use your high beams when possible to get the widest possible visibility and scan the road from shoulder to shoulder, watching for glowing eyes of animals. If you have a passenger to keep their eyes out for you, even better.
4. Brakes: If an animal is standing on or crossing the road, hit the brakes, says the Ministry of Transportation. Never assume the animal is going to move out of your way. If you’re not able to brakes in time, go for the deer; swerving could result in a more serious collision, perhaps with another car on the road.
5. Keep your head up: While this is something you should always apply to your driving, it’s especially important this time of year when deer movement is high. If possible, have a passenger fiddle with the radio and pull over if you need a drink or bite to eat.
And remember, deer crossing signs are meant to warn you that deer are often present in the area. Try not to get confused as this woman did: