You never think that it will happen to you until it does in fact happen. It’s kind of like winning a lottery: such a rare occurrence you are awe struck. What am I talking about? I am referring to the accidental act of hitting and killing a deer, moose, raccoon, large or small animal on the highway home from your cottage rentals. This is no laughing matter. Killing an animal on the roadways is painful enough when you consider the sadness of taking another of life. But the implication of putting you and your family (possibly another motorist) in a potentially life threatening situation is even more frightful.
There seems to be a huge problem over the last couple of cottage rentals seasons (since 2009), with an increasing amount of deer jumping onto major roadways. The OPP have issued several warnings out to motorists on the major routes: QEW, 400, 404, 401 and even some of the major 4 lane routes, to be very, very wary of deer. A buck could be as big as 350 to 500 pounds in weight. Imagine hitting that in a smaller vehicle? Well, we did just that past weekend.
We were heading home from a weekend of cleaning and organising our cottage rentals business. The rain had ceased and the highway was dry of the prior day’s rain. The traffic was light and it was around dusk. From literally out of the sky, the buck came out of nowhere! My husband was doing about 100 km. in the right lane on the 400 and there was a car next to us. It all happened so fast, we really had no time to react. We hit the buck square on from the right side of the minivan, and took out our entire front end! It was either hit the car next to us, or hit the deer. There were no other options. There was no guard rail on the right side of the road, no shoulder, just a very steep embankment that would have been lethal, for me and my family. Tragic as it was for us to hit or kill the buck, (we know not what came of the animal), and it could have been worse ending a beautiful week or weekend at your cottage rental.
Here are some helpful hints on avoiding just such an incident:
1. Be on alert for the signs that show you in yellow to watch for deer and moose.
2. Vast majority of crashes happen in spring and fall (mating seasons).
3. Dawn and dusk are the worst times and seem to cause the most collisions.
4. Scan the roadside and watch your speedà reducing speed in certain areas is a much safer approach.
5. Use your high beams in the area to help eliminate your roadway and warn the animals.
6. Deer often travel in herds, if you see one, there are probably more.
7. Do not swerve to avoid hitting the deer. Worst collisions occur when you swerve to miss and hit another car or a barrier or go into an embankment and a hit a tree.
What to do if you have hit a deer:
- Assuming you are okay, stop the car, if possible move to a safe location on side of road. Turn on your hazards.
- Review your surroundings, and try to identify where you are, road markers, exits, general idea, and then call emergency services, 911. Tell the operator what happened. If there are injuries, report it right away on the phone so they can release an ambulance
- You will need to make a report with the police, and a patrol car will be sent to the site to take your information.
- If possible, identify if the animal is alive or dead. If animal is alive it will probably vacate the scene. If the animal is dead, emergency services will assist you in removing the animal from the road.
- You will need to make an assessment on your vehicle’s condition, if driveable or not. The police can aid in that regard. You will in all likelihood, need to make arrangements for a tow truck if not driveable. Call CAA or Roadside Assistance.
Enjoy your cottage rentals, but be safe and be on alert!