With many of the usual avenues for summer travel still closed, Canadians are taking road trips like never before. As per usual, these roads are filled with deer, moose, bison and all manner of other large mammals that have gotten rather complacent after 16 months of pandemic traffic. Chances are good that at some point this summer at least one of you reading this will have a close encounter with some Canadian wildlife while behind the wheel.
Watch the Everything Should Be Better video or read the transcript below to learn how you can best avoid smashing into fauna – and how to smash into fauna correctly if evasion fails.
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You may have seen this meme a few years ago:
The implied message is that terrorism isn’t a big deal. But actually, it’s because moose are crazy dangerous to Canadians.Between 2000 and 2014, 236 Canadians were killed after their car smacked into a moose. Add in collisions with deer, elk, bears, cougars, bison and coyotes, and in the last nineteen years, we’ve lost about as many Canadians to wildlife crashes as died in the Korean War.
If you don’t want to be the next driver killed by a wayward ungulate, follow the tips in the video above to avoid wildlife collisions and, if that fails, how to properly smash your car into majestic Canadian fauna.
TIP NUMBER ONE: DON’T SPEED
We’ve all been there. You’re on a wide, dry, empty country road, and you wonder “why does it have such a low speed limit? I’m a good driver, I’ve got good tires, I can speed through here without any problems.”
Well dingus, maybe traffic engineers set the speed limit low not because of the road design, but because this is an area where deer keep diving through windshields. That slow speed limit is there so you have enough time to scan the bushes for suicidal deer, and stop in time if one wanders into the roadway.
Deer and moose are like giant drunk toddlers. They’ll leap in front of your car for seemingly no reason: So woe betide the driver who thinks he can speed by some roadside deer without them going all kamikaze on his weekend plans.
Also, the faster the speed, the worse the collision. Hit a deer in a school zone, and the only damage done is to your pants. Do it at 120, and your funeral is closed casket.
Anyone who’s driven from Edmonton to Vancouver knows that Highway 16 slows from about 110 km/h to 80 km/h as you pass through Jasper National Park. The reason they do that is because they don’t want you ploughing your BMW through mountain goats.
So, if you don’t like getting moose antlers stabbed into your heart, pay attention to your speed, particularly at night. The majority of wildlife collisions happen between 9 pm and midnight.
And those wildlife crossing signs aren’t there for fun: If you see one of these, it’s because you’re entering a stretch of roadway that’s slick with deer blood a lot of the time.
Post-COVID Road Trips: East Coast Style
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TIP NUMBER TWO: DON’T SWERVE
Here’s a sad thing that happens a lot: Someone sees an adorable animal in the middle of the road, so they swerve their car to avoid it, and they end up killing someone.
In November, a 24-year-old Regina woman was killed after she swerved to avoid hitting an injured deer, and ploughed into the back of a semi truck. Two months before that, a 27-year-old Halifax woman swerved to avoid an animal in the middle of the road, causing a crash that killed her passenger.
That’s why: Never swerve. By trying to save an animal’s life, you could end up causing infinitely more carnage than a dead squirrel. After all: An animal isn’t a telephone pole: You might swerve just to have it jump in front of you anyway.
Besides, you just polished off a bacon Whopper, and suddenly you’re St. Francis of Assisi? Don’t risk people’s lives to save a duck. If you’re a collision course with an animal, just brake as much as you can and blow the horn.
The one possible exception is if you’re about to hit a moose. Moose are particularly deadly for drivers because they’re basically 600 pounds of meat on toothpick legs. In a crash, your hood goes through the toothpicks and the animal flies through your windshield; so swerving can potentially ward off a direct hit. But here again, you’ve got to be careful. If swerving around a moose means steering into oncoming traffic, don’t do it. And if you’re driving a truck or SUV, you probably shouldn’t do it either.
Vehicle safety analysts have a test, appropriately called the moose test, in which a car driving at high speed swerves around a stationary point designed to mimic a moose. Even with a professional driver behind the wheel, a surprising amount of cars don’t pass the test and end up rolling over.
TIP NUMBER THREE: IF COLLISION LOOMS, RELEASE THE BRAKES AT THE LAST MINUTE
In most vehicle collisions, particularly fatal ones, you usually don’t see the animal before it slams into you. That’s why, as I mentioned in the opening, the best way to keep bear fur out of your grille is to slow down, stay alert and continually scan the ditches for glowing eyes.
But if all that fails, and you’re finding your car hurtling directly towards Bambi, there is one last-second tip that could save your life.
Slam on the brakes until the moment just before impact, then release them. This lifts the nose of the car just enough so that you may deflect the animal away from the vehicle, and prevent it from flying directly at you.
The deer isn’t going to be okay, but you will.