Research Papers

Driver Behaviour in Response to Encountering Wildlife on the Road in Canada

Filename 6C-Meister-FP.docx
Filesize 120 KB
Version 1
Date added June 30, 2016
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Category 2016 CARSP XXVI Halifax
Tags Research and Evaluation, Session 6C
Author/Auteur Shawna R. Meister, Marisela Mainegra Hing, Robyn D. Robertson, Ward G. M. Vanlaar
Stream/Volet Research and Evaluation

Slidedeck Presentation

6C - Meister


Background/Context: How drivers respond to wildlife on the road is critical to the safety of both road users and wildlife. In most cases, the best driver response is to slow down in a controlled manner and steer towards the animal. In contrast, swerving to avoid animals is often much more dangerous and is not recommended in most situations. More collisions are caused by drivers who swerve to avoid hitting an animal and instead lose control of their vehicle and/or collide with other road users or hazards. Unfortunately, data on how drivers respond to wildlife on the road, which could help improve knowledge and better target road safety messaging on this issue, are substantially limited.

Aims/Objectives: To augment existing wildlife-vehicle collision (WVC) data with self-reported data from drivers who have encountered wildlife on the road in Canada. Augmenting data is critical to help researchers and practitioners formulate new approaches to road safety, wildlife management, road design, public education, and environmental impact.

Methods/Target Group: Results are based on the Traffic Injury Research Foundation’s (TIRF) Road Safety Monitor (RSM), an annual public opinion poll developed and conducted by TIRF. A total of 1,031 Canadians completed the poll in October and November of 2014. Results can be considered accurate within plus or minus 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. All respondents completed the survey on-line. Logistic regression analysis was used to analyze the data using a significance level of alpha equal to 0.05. Also, 95% Confidence Intervals (95%-CI) have been calculated where appropriate.

Results/Activities: Drivers reported hitting or almost hitting small animals (52.6% and 43.5% of all respondents respectively) and deer (20.0% and 34.7% respectively) most frequently. Moose, the largest animal one could possibly hit and therefore the most dangerous one, was hit by 3.2% of respondent and almost hit by 7.1% of respondents. The survey also revealed that only one-third of Canadians think that the proper response to wildlife on the road is to slow down and steer towards the animal and, just as concerning, approximately the same numbers of Canadians think they should swerve. Many more results are available from this poll and will be described in the full paper.

Discussion/Deliverables: The results illustrate the high prevalence of Canadians hitting or almost hitting animals on the road as well as misconceptions and lack of knowledge among Canadian drivers about what to do when faced with animals on the road. Although this study’s focus is on improving data collection on WVCs, there were several limitations to it. As such, additional research is needed.

Conclusions: Although focusing on improving mitigation measures and improving road design is important to reducing WVCs, the survey revealed a clear need to improve driver education about responding to wildlife.

Shawna R. Meister, Marisela Mainegra Hing, Robyn D. Robertson, Ward G. M. Vanlaar