Blackfalds RCMP say animals, such as moose or deer, on highways can be a significant risk to driver safety. Photo by BLACK PRESS NEWS SERVICES

Wayward animals are a danger on the highway

Animals wandering onto roadways — a hazard that is common at this time of year — can put drivers at risk, says a Blackfalds RCMP officer.

Const. John Szerve said hitting larger animals will cause damage to the vehicle and put the driver at risk.

“Usually, if a driver hits a deer, we don’t see too many injuries, but it all depends on whether the person is wearing a seatbelt and things like that,” he said.

“There could be some injury to the driver depending on where the (deer) is hit … there’s the possibility it could come up into the windshield.”

A driver who hits a large animal such as a moose is more likely to be injured, he added.

“Cars will take out the middle of the legs, and the moose will fall into the windshield. I’ve seen it where the roofs are literally crinkled back like a tin can due to the moose hitting,” Szerve said.

Drivers are much more likely to hit an animal at night, said Szerve.

“Moose, for example, are harder to see because of the dark colours of the animal. Also their eyes are not reflective like deer eyes are, so you don’t see a moose until they’re almost right on top of you.”

If an animal is hit on Highway 11 or the QEII, the province is responsible for removing it, and if an animal is struck on a county road, it is the county’s responsibility, he said.

The average cleanup time “varies depending on the day or whether it’s a weekend or holiday. A lot of the time, police are the ones who receive the call first and we will sometimes pull the animal off the road so it’s less of a hazard.

“I’ve seen cars that have hit an animal on the road and have rolled their cars, due to the angle they hit the animal and the way it was laying in the road.”

Drivers shouldn’t follow vehicles too closely on highways because they could cause a collision if the vehicle in front of them slams on the brakes to avoid an animal, Szerve added.

“We’ve had many times where … an animal will be thrown or left on the road after being hit and the following vehicle will not be able to react in proper time and will then collide with that same animal.”

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