As clocks change watch for wildlife on the highway
In a recent YouTube video, I shared a headlight cleaning hack, and a story about how I came to have one clean, shiny headlight and a dull one. You guessed it. I whacked a deer. While I pursue wildlife during hunting season, I don’t enjoy hitting them with my vehicle.
In our neck of the woods, we drive the “Gauntlet.” It’s called that because of the numbers of deer, elk, and other animals that we encounter on the route. You might also guess that when we change the clocks, and daylight visibility decreases, the numbers of animals on the road increase. We have to slow down and pay attention more closely.
Return to daylight standard time: Change your clocks and your driving habits
DENVER – November 5 marks the end of daylight saving time, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife reminds motorists to be particularly cautious to avoid wildlife-related accidents on our roads as daylight hours get shorter.
“The fall time change happens to be right in line with peak mating season for some of our wildlife, especially deer. Bears are also still actively looking for food and the calories needed before hibernation,” said Crystal Chick, CPW area wildlife manager. “Animals are on the move this time of year, most actively between dawn and dusk. With shorter daylight hours, that makes wildlife harder to see right when people are making their daily commutes.”
The Colorado Department of Transportation sees an average of 3,300 reported wildlife collisions each year, and notes more car accidents involving wildlife occur in November than in any other month. According to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, the average property damage costs from animal-vehicle collisions is over $3,400.
The following precautions are good advice all year long, but particularly at and around the change back to daylight standard time:
- Slow down. Swerving at high speeds increases the danger of an accident. Moderate speeds maintain a driver’s reaction time and allow an appropriate response to animals on or near roads.
- Stay alert, particularly while driving between dusk and dawn. This is when deer and other common wildlife are most active and more likely to be crossing roadways.
- Scan ahead and watch for movement and shining eyes along roadsides. If you see one animal, you should expect it will be accompanied by others.
- Obey traffic signs, particularly wildlife warning signs. Though incidents can happen anywhere, transportation authorities attempt to reduce the number of incidents by posting signage and lowering speeds in areas where wildlife are active.
- When animals are seen on or near the road, slow down or stop, honk the horn and/or flash headlights. This warns the animal to avoid the road and alerts other drivers to the potential hazard.
- Always wear seat belts. Unfortunately, not every collision is avoidable, and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration states that the risk of serious injury and death in a crash is reduced by half when seat belts are worn.
Drivers involved in a wildlife/vehicle collision should report the accident to the Colorado State Patrol by calling *CSP (star key and 277). For additional information on wildlife and traffic safety, visit cpw.state.co.us.
CPW is an enterprise agency, relying primarily on license sales, state parks fees and registration fees to support its operations, including: 41 state parks and more than 350 wildlife areas covering approximately 900,000 acres, management of fishing and hunting, wildlife watching, camping, motorized and non-motorized trails, boating and outdoor education. CPW’s work contributes approximately $6 billion in total economic impact annually throughout Colorado.
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