Today marks the first day for whitetail deer hunting season, and the deer will be on the move. Drivers in the southeast are reminded to be extra careful while driving on the highways.
"During fall, we know that it's the rut," explained Tyler McMurchy, with SGI, "so deer will be on the move and motorist need to be aware of the potential danger for wildlife collisions and adjust their driving habits accordingly."
He adds that wildlife collisions are common, especially at this time of year.
"There's more than 10,000 collisions on average, every year with deer alone and thousands more with other wildlife. These collisions cost Saskatchewan motorists tens of millions of dollars every year. They injure hundreds of people and do occasionally, cost people their lives. So it's so important to be aware of the potential crossing the road especially in the fall when they are in mating season."
The months of October to December are the months with the most collisions with deer. Over $55 million in claims were processed in 2016.
McMurchy shared some tips to make your drive safer.
"Encounters with wildlife on roadways are inevitable given the size and geography of our province but here are precautions you can take to help protect yourself. Be aware that there are peak times such as the fall when the risk of a collision is particularity high. And you also need to know that the peak times for collisions are dawn and dusk. So we advise motorists to watch their speed, to be aware of those yellow wildlife warning signs that indicate areas of high risk and slowing down of course."
"It is important to constantly scan the road from shoulder to shoulder. Being alert is still your best defense against a collision and we always advise you to avoid distractions when you're behind the wheel in any event."
"If you see an animal at the side of the road, slow down and pass by slowly. Try to remain calm. If you have time to stop, do so at a safe distance if they're crossing in front of you. And when one animal crosses the road, others often follow."
"If a collision is unavoidable, try to aim you vehicle at the spot where the animal came from, not where it's going. Try for a glancing blow rather than hitting it head-on. And let your brakes up just before you collide. that causes the front of your vehicle to rise s;lightly and reduces the chance of the animal coming through your windshield."
"If you do hit an animal, that can be a stressful and traumatic experience, so move to the shoulder, turn on your hazard lights and take a minute to regain your composure and assess the damage to your vehicle. We don't advise you approach the animal, especially if it's injured because they can be dangerous. Call the police or your local RCMP detachment if there are human injuries or significant damage to your vehicle. But if the damage is less severe, you may continue driving and report the collision to SGI as you normally would."
As always, at this time of year, it is important to slow down.
"It is winter and we know the roads are icy so we always advice people to watch their speed in any event because posted speed limits are for ideal driving conditions and that might not always be the case with the weather we've been having."