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Safer Driving

Tips for drivers

We have to be aware that we are not alone on the road. Besides other human participants there are also both, wild animals and pets, which are not familiar with rules of the road. Therefore it is our responsibility to be the drivers, who are able to prevent sad endings of our animal encounters. Some advices, how to avoid collisions with animals, are here:

1. Be particularly alert when driving in wildlife areas.

  • ivali_na_cestiDrive with increased awareness when travelling in signed wildlife areas. Warning signs are there with a reason and are generally placed in known wildlife movement areas and wildlife-vehicle collision hot spots. Take notice of crossing signs along your regularly travelled routes and avoid getting habituated to them.
  • Wildlife is more likely to be found near woods, wetlands or agricultural areas, and wherever roads cross streams.
  • Pay attention to both sides of the road by scanning from side to side. If you have passengers, ask them to keep an eye out for animals.
  • Practice active driving. Distracted driving, such as driving while talking on your mobile phone, text messaging or chatting with passengers is even more dangerous in wildlife areas.
  • As always, make sure you and your passengers wear seatbelts.

2. Slow down and increase the following distance between you and other cars.

  • When travelling at a higher rate of speed, your ability to take evasive action is greatly reduced.
  • Reducing your speed will increase your response time to avoid colliding with a crossing animal.

3. Limit driving in wildlife areas at night.

  • During dusk and dawn a driver’s visibility is the lowest and wildlife traffic is the highest.
  • With the exception of foggy or snowy conditions, use your high beams to illuminate more of the road and the roadsides.
  • Avoid overdriving your headlights. At speeds above 70 km/h, your headlights cannot sufficiently illuminate objects and terrain at the end of the beam for you to take evasive action. When speed limits exceed 70 km/ h, it is easy for a driver to become comfortable with a familiar route and start driving too fast for conditions. It is better for you to arrive at your destination a few minutes later than to arrive very late and with an insurance claim.
  • Drive closer to centrelines, so you can avoid crashing with an animal running from the side of a roadway. Additionally you will avoid any invisible pedestrians and cyclists (without reflecting materials or lamps). You will notice cars on the opposite lane in time due to headlights.
  • Look for animals’ reflective eyes, often visible from a distance. Note that the eyes of a roe deer do not reflect light the same as cat’s eyes.
  • Keep your dashboard lights on low and do not use internal lights that can cause a glare on the inside of the windshield and reduce visibility.

4. Be especially careful if you are on a motorcycle.

  • Motorcyclists are particularly at risk. For example, in USA only 2% of deer-car collisions result in human fatalities, while 85% of deer-motorcycle collisions involve human fatalities. Common speed limit in USA is 65 mph (approx. 110 km/h).
  • Drive with caution, particularly at night.

5. Keep up with regular auto maintenance.

  • Make sure your windshield is clean and your dashboard is clear of objects that would obscure your ability to see animals on the road.
  • If you regularly drive in wildlife areas, invest in bright headlights.

6. “Think like an animal” - be familiar with wildlife behaviour.

  • You cannot always anticipate the unpredictable actions of wildlife crossing roads, but you can better prepare yourself by learning about wildlife behaviour.
  • Wildlife moves across the landscape for a wide variety of reasons and at different times of the year, such as mating and hunting seasons. Also be more vigilant of wildlife moving if there are active wildfires in the area.
  • Many wildlife species travel in large groups or herds. Where you see one, many more may be nearby. Watch for mother and offspring groups.
  • Your car is not a natural predator and the animal does not know to get out of your way. Even if an animal sees you, it may still jump in front of your car.
  • If an animal crosses safely in front of your car, proceed with caution because it may turn back and try to cross again.

7. Don’t litter.

  • Some species enjoy "human" food just as much as you do and will be attracted to roadsides if they smell food containers, apple cores, candy wrappers, soda bottles, etc.

8. What to do if you see wildlife on or near the road.

  • Brake firmly but try not to lock your brakes.
  • Do not swerve and leave your lane. Many accidents occur when drivers swerve to avoid an animal and collide with cars in oncoming lanes or fixed objects such as trees on the roadside.
  • If you encounter a group of animals blocking the road, do not try to drive through the group or get out of your car. Try flashing your lights and honking your horn to encourage them to clear the road.
  • Once the animals have moved out of the roadway, proceed with caution until you are out of the area.

9. What to do if you hit an animal.

  • Pull off to the side of the road and turn on your flashers. Before stepping out of the car, put on a safety vest. Use reflective triangles to warn other drivers.
  • Attend the injured in your vehicle.
  • 112logoIf the animal was injured at the collision and ran away, report it to the Regional Office by dialling emergency number 112, which will inform competent hunting family.
  • Report the collision to the police only when you want to report an accident with material damage, injuries or fatalities. Otherwise call Regional office, which will automatically inform local hunting family and Veterinary Hygiene Service. By reporting the collision you contribute to the database of animal-car collisions, which will help defining “hot spots”.
  • In case of collision with protected species, the procedure is the same. If you want to file a damage compensation claim you have to contact additionally Slovenia Forest Service. Their employee has to document the accident and prepare a report.
  • Make a photo documentation of the accident and the damage on a vehicle.
  • Do not approach a wounded animal; it may kick, bite or gore you.
  • To prevent further crashes remove dead animals from the roadway. But in order to avoid infections, do not remove them with bare hands.
  • Once alerted, veterinaries can treat injured animals, examine dead ones, and together with hunters search for any young left behind.

10. What to do if you ran over an otter?

  • vidrafonThe procedure is the same as for other protected species.
  • Additionally please report the accident on VIDRAFON (051 622 111). Institute LUTRA is studying this vulnerable species and any new data contributes to the known species distribution in Slovenia.

Adapted for Slovenia after Defenders of Wildlife: Driver tip sheet.






Roadkill database