Animal collisions at peak

There has been a sharp increase in animal collisions this winter and several residents have been keeping track and trying to change things.

There has been a sharp increase in animal collisions this winter and several residents have been keeping track and trying to change things.

Neil Helland lives by Saranovich Road and he said that there have been six accidents within six weeks near that road.

Helland is just worried about preventing accidents in the future.

There are three high collision areas in Vanderhoof according to Helland: McCall Hill, Braeside Road to 12 Mile Hill and Saranovich Road. The Ministry of Transportation has acknowledged that these problem areas exist and are working on placing more signage up sometime but whether the winter will prevent them from doing so is another story.

“We have convinced highways to erect a couple signs, they’re not really the best of signs but it’s a start,” he said. “$34 million was spent last year on collisions with animals. In our region, there’s something like 140 accidents, three deaths.”

But Helland would like to see more than that, although the signs are a step in the right direction, especially if they have the blinking lights on them.

Helland recommends a few practices be included in the ICBC driver’s guide which has little to no information on animal collisions or safety:

  • If you see one deer on your right, you better be looking left to see the others
  • Always watch to see what the first car in the line is doing, as well as the car ahead of you of course
  • If you see the lights flicker on the car ahead of you it means that something has crossed the road

Helland has never been an accident near those roads himself because he and his family are very aware of the problem and they try to slow down long before.

Helland has a few more suggestions for transportation authorities: signs to reduce the speed limit earlier as one enters Vanderhoof. Before the slow to 70 km/h signs he would like to have slow to 80 km/h signs further east.

Helland would also like to see shallower ditches on the sides of the highway. He admitted that this would probably be expensive but if the ditches had a more gradual slope than deer wouldn’t be able to hide in them.

According to ICBC Crash data there have been 2,247 animal collisions in the Nechako district between 2006 and 2010 and 1,289 in the Lakes District. Of all those over half are deer collisions, moose collisions make up most of the other half that is shared with various other animals as well.

The crash data suggests that the collisions peak between 6 and 9 p.m. at night and again at 6 a.m. with most collisions occurring in October and November for rest of the province but in the Nechako area most of the collisions actually occur in December.

These figures cannot be completely accurate however since Helland himself has found carcasses in fields and gullies after the snow has melted because the injured animals often manage to get off the highway before they die.