Animal collisions

Animal collisions, also called roadkill, are a major risk in driving. A head-on collision with a large animal such as moose or cattle is certain to cause human injuries and vehicle damage. And in any case, animal collisions threaten wildlife and livestock. Drivers are in most countries obliged to stop and call relevant authorities (typically the police) for instance to kill and dispose of injured animals.

Risk factors

Wild animals warning sign, Australia
Grazing sheep warning, Norway

Precautions

Keep a keen eye on the forest edge. Often the animals stay there for some time before entering the road, hard to notice for an untrained eye.

Use headlights and seatbelts. Be well-rested behind the wheel. Adapt speed to daylight and rainfall.

Using whistles attached to your vehicle to make a high-pitched noise, or playing your radio very loudly, can help to alert wildlife of your approach on the road in rural high-risk areas.

Travellers might be tempted to steal warning signs for "exotic" animals as souvenirs. This is not only illegal; it also increases the risk for animal collisions. In some places equivalent boards can be purchased instead, perhaps made into tables or in more convenient sizes.

Reaction

If you are forced to hit an animal, the rear end of deer and many other large animals is less heavy than its front. Trying to steer behind the animal also gives it a chance to run away forwards – which it will probably try also if you steer in front of it.

Do not relax having avoided the animal you saw: it probably has company. Do not rely on the animals behaving rationally; drive slow until securely past all of the herd.

See also

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