Wor­ries about wildlife

Many driv­ers lack con­fi­dence they would know how to avoid a moose-ve­hi­cle col­li­sion: sur­vey

The Pilot - - Focus - BY GLEN WHIFFEN IN­FRA­STRUC­TURE glen.whiffen@thetele­gram.com

On a clear night, an ex­pe­ri­enced high­way driver can de­tect the re­flec­tion of head­lights in the eyes of a moose or other an­i­mal in time to stop to avoid a col­li­sion.

But that is not some­thing most driv­ers can rely upon. The an­i­mals’ eyes can only be de­tected if the moose is fac­ing or is per­pen­dic­u­lar to the on­com­ing ve­hi­cle, and if the weather is clear enough.

Com­mon sense will tell you that re­duc­ing speed and keep­ing a watch­ful eye scan­ning both sides of the road is the best way to avoid moose-ve­hi­cle col­li­sions.

A newly re­leased na­tional sur­vey from State Farm Canada sheds some light on how Cana­di­ans re­act to wildlife while driv­ing.

What is in­ter­est­ing for this prov­ince is that the sur­vey re­sults in­di­cate 20 per cent of New­found­land driv­ers do not feel con­fi­dent they would know how to avoid a col­li­sion with a large an­i­mal.

And even with all the aware­ness cam­paigns, sig­nage and dis­cus­sion in New­found­land and Labrador about moose-ve­hi­cle col­li­sions in re­cent years, 89 per cent of the peo­ple sur­veyed be­lieve bet­ter public ed­u­ca­tion about how to re­act to wildlife on the road is needed to pre­vent col­li­sions that could lead to in­juries and fa­tal­i­ties.

Ac­cord­ing to State Farm Canada, the sur­vey found about one in three driv­ers in the coun­try do not feel con­fi­dent that they would know how to avoid a col­li­sion with a large an­i­mal, and over 80 per cent be­lieve bet­ter public ed­u­ca­tion is needed.

The sur­vey found Cana­di­ans are most likely to brake (66 per cent) or take their foot off the gas (55 per cent) when they see an an­i­mal on the high­way. More than one-third in­di­cated they would honk their horn, and one-quar­ter said they would sw­erve.

“The un­pre­dictabil­ity of these sit­u­a­tions, com­bined with hu­man im­pulses to try to pre­serve the lives of these an­i­mals, makes these sit­u­a­tions dif­fi­cult and dan­ger­ous,” says John Bordignon of State Farm Canada.

“In fact, ac­cord­ing to po­lice and road safety ex­perts, sw­erv­ing is not the best strat­egy when ap­proach­ing wildlife on the road. In­stead, they ad­vise driv­ers to main­tain their line, even if it’s to­ward the an­i­mal, and firmly ap­ply the brakes. Sw­erv­ing could send you into the path of an on­com­ing ve­hi­cle or cause you to lose con­trol of your car.”

The sur­vey also found more than 25 per cent of re­spon­dents said they have hit a small an­i­mal on the road while driv­ing and more than 25 per cent have ei­ther hit or nearly hit a large an­i­mal.

Moose-ve­hi­cle col­li­sions and ways to pre­vent them have been a ma­jor is­sue in this prov­ince for many years and have led to the for­ma­tion of or­ga­ni­za­tions such as SOPAC (Save Our Peo­ple Ac­tion Com­mit­tee).

Ac­cord­ing to its web­site, SOPAC was of­fi­cially formed in 2009 by sur­vivors of moose-ve­hi­cle col­li­sions to take on and high­light the prob­lem of moose on the high­ways in New­found­land and Labrador.

“It has be­come ev­i­dent by the num­ber of moose-ve­hi­cle col­li­sions that are re­oc­cur­ring in many of the same lo­ca­tions and the con­tin­ued num­ber of moose sight­ings be­ing recorded in the me­dia and on the var­i­ous so­cial me­dia chan­nels that there are pat­terns,” the web­site states.

“Govern­ment should rec­og­nize them and take ac­tion to pro­tect the driv­ers on our high­ways.”

As in pre­vi­ous years, this past spring SOPAC part­nered with the Govern­ment of New­found­land and Labrador to con­tinue a public ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness cam­paign.

The pro­vin­cial govern­ment stated that in 2016, there were 580 moose-ve­hi­cle col­li­sions in New­found­land and Labrador. While moose-ve­hi­cle col­li­sions can hap­pen year-round, most oc­cur be­tween May and Oc­to­ber, sta­tis­tics in­di­cate.

And though moose are more likely to be seen along high­ways and road­ways at dusk and dawn, col­li­sions of­ten take place dur­ing other times of the day— es­pe­cially at night when moose are more dif­fi­cult to see.

Tips pro­vided by govern­ment and SOPAC on how driv­ers can avoid col­li­sions in­clude: scan both sides of the high­way when you travel; don’t be dis­tracted and pay close at­ten­tion to high­way warn­ing signs; avoid driv­ing at dusk and dawn when moose are more com­mon along­side high­ways; have pas­sen­gers also watch for moose; do not drive above posted speed lim­its; and do not travel at night when moose are more dif­fi­cult to see.

Wind­shields and head­lights should also be kept clean and driv­ers should be aware that moose are un­pre­dictable — even if stand­ing calmly on the edge of the road, they could bolt in front of a ve­hi­cle at the last mo­ment.


The re­sults of a na­tional sur­vey by State Farm Canada in­di­cate 20 per cent of New­found­land and Labrador driv­ers are not con­fi­dent that they would know how to avoid a col­li­sion with a moose.


The Har­bour Au­thor­ity As­so­ci­a­tion of New­found­land and Labrador’s bi­en­nial sem­i­nar wrapped up in Gan­der on Oct. 27. The meet­ing was about net­work­ing and keep­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives in­formed of the lat­est ini­tia­tives and pro­gram­ming.

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