There’s another dark side to the early nightfall that will happen after the switch to standard time this weekend.
The Alberta Motor Association is cautioning drivers to be extra careful about wildlife crossing roads and highways.
With clocks turning back early on Sunday, dusk will be arriving an hour earlier — which means commuters are more likely to be on the road when deer and other animals are especially active.
The AMA finds November to be the peak month for wildlife-vehicle collisions in Alberta, with deer involved in about 80 per cent of these crashes.
Running into wildlife accounts for half of all motor vehicle accidents on rural highways, said Ryan Lemont, AMA’s manager of driver education.
As some of these collisions will cause death or injury to motorists, as well kill the animals and damage vehicles, “the more people can take defensive measures, the better we can protect drivers and animals,” added Lemont.
He urges drivers to be “actively scanning” for wildlife when driving on highways, particularly in rural areas, and especially at dusk.
Sudden spots of light on or near the road could be your headlights’ reflection in an animal’s eyes. And if one deer is near the road, others could be following, said Lemont.
According to the AMA, the peak period for wildlife collisions is October through January, between 7 and 11 p.m.
Lemont encourages drivers to slow down during this period to reduce the distance needed to stop, and the impact of a potential crash.
In Alberta, collisions with wildlife are second to hail as a leading cause of comprehensive damage claims to vehicles. The average insurance claim tops $8,000. Total costs – both directly and indirectly – average $280 million a year in Alberta.
Contributing factors to November wildlife collisions include mating season, road salt and the need for animals to reach open water supplies in freezing conditions.
If an animal suddenly crosses the road, Lemont says motorists need to stay in their lane while braking, so they don’t cause a collision or rollover.
Drivers who can’t stop for a large animal are advised to steer toward its hindquarters, as heading in the same direction as the animal will increase the chance of a crash.