Don’t veer for deer: OPP urge drivers to watch for animals

Deer on snowy road Photo by Kalle Pihelgas/Shutterstock

Did you know November is high time for wildlife collisions in cottage country? More than 12,000 animal related-accidents occur each year in Ontario, with numbers peaking in October and November.

The Ministry of Transportation is drawing attention to the problem and urging drivers to be aware of animals with a new campaign called “Don’t veer for deer”.

If you can’t stop your car in time, “don’t veer for deer,” says Northumberland OPP Constable Rob Simpson. “Reduce your speed immediately, drive straight, and stay in the lane…Aim your vehicle towards the flank of the animal and try to graze the animal rather than hitting it head-on.”

It might be easier said than done, but swerving to avoid an animal can be more dangerous than not—there’s a risk of losing control of your vehicle, driving into oncoming traffic, or ending up in a ditch. 

The “Don’t veer for deer” campaign also points out to take extra precautions when driving 90 minutes before and after sunset and sunrise. “Statistically, it is one of the most popular times for a collision with wildlife,” says Const. Simpson. 

Be aware of larger animals as you drive further north. “There are a lot of deer collisions in southern Ontario. As you drive north, the animals scale up in size,” he says. “Fatal animal collisions occur most when your vehicle is striking a moose.”

How can drivers protect themselves?

“Reduce your speed,” says Const. Simpson. “When you obey the speed limit, especially during peak hours, it directly increases your reaction time and decreases the time it takes to stop your vehicle. This is the difference between getting into a collision and avoiding one.” 

Safety can become even more challenging when you factor in other drivers or winter conditions. In the case where a car is following too closely behind you, Const. Simpson recommends putting your indicator on, pulling over to the shoulder, and letting them pass.

When you’re faced with icy roads, Const. Simpson reminds everyone to drive according to the conditions and to reduce speeds when visibility is low. He says it is also crucial that drivers get snow tires for their vehicles. 

In an OPP news release from November 7, 2022, the Norfolk County Detachment shared a few more ways drivers can stay safe:

  • Make sure you are looking all ways. Deer do not often hit from straight on, but approach from the sides of the road. 
  • Deer travel in herds. If you see one, watch for more. 
  • Slow down. The slower your vehicle, the more you time you will have to react accordingly.
  • Watch for glowing eyes. 
  • Remove any distractions in the car so you can pay full attention to the road. 
  • Put your seatbelt on.

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