2002 collision statistics for British Columbia report 395 human injury and 5 human fatal collisions resulting from animal strikes on our highways. Over 8,000 collisions occur every year and ICBC pays out more than $20 million for the resulting insurance claims. The Ministry of Transportation pays out more than $600,000 in clean up costs.
This is expensive for the humans, but on the animal side of the scale 4,300 animal deaths are recorded and an estimated 12,000 deaths go unrecorded. Who would have thought the problem was this large, and what can we do about it?
Deer whistles are useless. The animals have a narrower range of hearing than humans do, so if you can't hear it, they can't either! Studies show that they have little or no impact on roadside animals and researchers suspect that if they did the startled animal has as much chance of moving onto the highway as they do away from it.
The Ministry of Transportation's Wildlife Fencing Program is the most effective measure used to prevent animal collisions, but can we afford to fence both sides of the highways in British Columbia? This is fiscally unreasonable and esthetically undesirable.
From a driver's perspective, caution is the best defense. Realizing that the twilight hours are beginning to occur at the same time as peak traffic flow and that they are the most likely time to find animals moving onto the highways drivers must pay more attention. Animals are unpredictable, they may bolt into traffic instead of away from it. Some animals, such as deer, tend to travel in groups. If one has crossed a driver can expect that more may follow.
Collisions may occur when drivers lose control of their vehicles trying to avoid an animal on the highway. If a smaller animal is in your way, consider using your brakes rather than steering. Swerving can take you into the ditch or the path of an oncoming vehicle. Please, reduce your speed in signed areas and swerving may not be necessary.