How to be ready for anything: Animal collisions

Whether it’s racoons in the city or a moose in country, we share the road with animals making animal collisions a sad, but real possibility on roads across Canada. Do you know what to do if you hit an animal? Here are our top tips to avoid an animal collision and keep you (and the animals) safe.

1. Be aware of your surroundings

Look for these specific roadside characteristics as clues for when animals are likely to be nearby and drive with extra caution:

  1. Creeks and drainages intersect the roads
  2. Habitat and forage is near the roadside
  3. Water sources are nearby
  4. Long, wide, straight stretches of road
  5. Yellow wildlife warning signs
Tip: Avoid driving at dusk and dawn when animals are more active and visibility is reduced.



2. Check for warning signs

Get into these simple habits when driving to spot animals as soon as possible:

  1. Scan the road from shoulder to shoulder
  2. Ask your passenger to be a second pair of eyes
  3. At night use your high beams when possible
  4. Watch for glowing eyes of animals
Tip: Notice flickering headlights of oncoming vehicles or tail lights of vehicles in front of you? This may be an animal crossing the road.

3. Be ready to react

If you do spot an animal in the road ahead of you, here’s how to handle the situation:

  1. Slow down and anticipate unpredictable behaviour
  2. Try to determine what the animal is doing and where it’s going
  3. Brake safely keeping in mind traffic and road conditions
  4. Honk your horn to try to scare off the animal
Tip: Many animals travel in groups, so where there’s one animal there may be more.

4. Prepare for a collision

Despite your best efforts, sometimes a collision is unavoidable. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Brake firmly and quickly, don’t swerve
  2. Aim in the direction the animal is coming from
  3. Look and steer your vehicle to strike the animal at an angle
  4. Let up on the brake just before you hit the animal to reduce the chance of the animal coming through your windshield
Tip: Swerving to avoid an animal often causes a more serious collision with another car or object on the road.

5. Know what to do after

If you’ve hit an animal on the road, there are a few things you’ll need to do:

  1. Pull off the road if possible
  2. Turn on your hazard lights
  3. Check that you and your passengers are okay:
    • Call 911 right away if anyone is hurt
  4. Safely try to determine if the animal is dead or injured:
    • If it’s injured, back off as they can be unpredictable
    • Contact local or provincial animal control or conservation services to report an injured animal on the road
    • Contact highway maintenance for your province/city to report a dead animal on the road
    • Call the local police if the animal is blocking traffic or creating a hazard for other drivers
  5. Inspect your vehicle for damage
    • Determine if it’s safe to continue driving
    • Call the police if there’s damage
      • To your vehicle over $2000
      • To city property
    • Contact your insurance company
      • Capture photos of the scene and your car
      • Make note of any key details
Tip: Learn more about how to be prepared for a car accident and download a handy checklist (PDF 24KB) to keep in your glove compartment.

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