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Wildlife Roadsharing Resource Centre seeks to prevent vehicle/wildlife collisions


September 15, 2015   by Canadian Underwriter


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The Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), in partnership with State Farm Canada, has launched a new resource to enhance education and prevent the estimated 45,000 vehicle/wildlife collisions every year in Canada.

Calling it the first of its kind in Canada, TIRF and State Farm Canada say the new web-based Wildlife Roadsharing Resource Centre – accessible to both the public and researchers at www.wildliferoadsharing.tirf.org – is meant to answer collisions between vehicles and wildlife on and near roadways that “often result in death and serious injuries for road users and wildlife alike.”

Resource seeks to help prevent vehicle/wildlife collisions

Containing a mix of research, information and tools to help increase knowledge and bridge gaps in the field, as well as create a common understanding of the problem to strengthen efforts to reduce it, the resource will continue to be developed as new research becomes available, notes a joint statement from TIRF and State Farm. TIRF’s mission is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries, while the purchase of State Farm’s Canadian operations by the Desjardins Group, one of the largest property and casualty insurance providers in Canada, was completed earlier this year.

Between 2001 and 2010, 296 people in Canada were killed as a result of vehicle/wildlife collisions, leading to estimated financial costs of $200 million, notes a joint statement. “Vehicle collisions with wildlife continue to pose a risk as traffic volumes increase, in part because road networks and other transportation corridors (e.g., railways) act as barriers to wildlife and ecological systems,” it notes, adding four to eight such collisions with large animals occur every hour.

In the United States, the average cost per collision from 1996 to 2001 was US$3,470, while the average yearly cost of about US$7.5 million, TIRF and State Farm report.

“The consequences of collisions involving vehicles and wildlife are under-estimated and profound,” says TIRF president and CEO Robyn Robertson. “A better understanding of these collisions, and more importantly, partnerships to deliver effective mitigation strategies to prevent crashes, are much-needed to help reduce the direct and indirect financial costs to Canadians.”

“A dedicated resource that clearly informs and educates the public, industry, first-responders and governments about encounters with vehicles and wildlife has been lacking in Canada,” says John Bordignon, media relations spokesperson for State Farm Canada. “I believe the WRRC will assist in saving the lives of people and wildlife and offers important short and long-term benefits,” Bordignon says.

“Fall can be an especially dangerous time for collisions with wildlife. Animals, particularly large animals such as moose and deer, are very active and move across larger areas due to winter migration, mating season, and to avoid hunters,” says Shawna Meister, TIRF research associate and co-ordinator, who developed the centre.

Road safety tips for drivers include the following:

  • do not swerve to avoid animals, with the potential exception of certain situations with moose, as swerving could cause the driver to lose control and hit another vehicle or road hazard;
  • pay attention to surroundings and continually scan the environment, taking note of the fact that roads near wooded areas, rivers, lakes and streams pose a greater threat to animal/vehicle interaction;
  • watch for flickering lights from other vehicles, which may indicate an animal crossing the road; and
  • do not rely on roadside fencing for protection since some animals can jump over or crawl under fences.