What to do if you hit an animal while driving
Big or small, a family pet or not, animals can cross the road at any moment. Here’s what you should do in this situation.
Mitigating the risk
Summer and fall are the seasons where the odds of hitting a wild animal are the highest.
Animals are most active at sunrise and sunset, so be especially careful when driving at these times.
Adapting your driving
Your most valuable asset is being well-rested when getting behind the wheel.
You will be more alert and able to react quickly in case of an emergency.
To give yourself enough time to react, be sure to respect the speed limit and pay attention to animal crossing signs.
Slow down when visibility is low.
Ask your passengers to also keep an eye out for animals on the side of the road.
A clean vehicle
Making sure your headlights are unobstructed (especially in winter) will help you better see the road.
Whenever possible, drive with your high beams on at night.
When a collision is unavoidable
A common mistake drivers make is swerving to avoid striking the animal. This is a dangerous manoeuvre that puts you or others at risk of an accident. Sometimes, it’s better to hit the animal.
Although you only have a split second to react, here’s what you can do:
- Honk! The noise should scare the animal off.
- Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers.
- Pump the brakes.
- Veer your vehicle in the direction where the animal came from and not where it is going.
- Release the brakes before the collision so the animal doesn’t hit the windshield (unless it’s a moose, in which case it is best to avoid the collision).
After a collision, who do you call?
In some provinces, like Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, it is mandatory to call the police when you hit an animal of a certain size.
Moreover, certain species, like the wild turkey and grey fox, require you to report the collision to a wildlife officer.
If your vehicle is damaged
Call your insurance company to see if you are covered. When you are, your insurer will explain how to submit a claim and have your vehicle repaired.