Beware of animals crossing roads as crashes spike in June

Beware of hitting wildlife crossing roads when traveling up north as animal-related crashes spike in June.

Arizona Game and Fish Department reports the higher-than-average number of wildlife-related crashes in June is likely due to the start of monsoon season. (Submitted photo)

The Arizona Department of Transportation’s Traffic Operations Center often receives “car versus deer” traffic calls during this time of year as it’s not uncommon for vehicle crashes with deer, antelope, elk, bear and other animals during a single evening when wildlife cross rural roads, according to a press release.

Since 2012, more collisions with animals – wildlife, livestock and family pets – happen in June than nearly every other month – October has most, the release said.

Also, more than 80 percent of animal-related crashes are with wildlife and 86 percent of crashes involving animals occur in rural areas annually; following crashes with wildlife (81.7 percent), livestock is the next common at 13.6 percent; family pets in urban areas make up 1.9 percent of crashes involving animals, the release added.

According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the higher-than-average number of wildlife-related crashes in June is likely due to the beginning of monsoon season.

The “green up” of plants provides more available water, allowing wildlife to travel greater distances and forage, the release noted. June is also the time when more motorists are traveling to Arizona’s high country, causing more vehicles on roads, the release added.

However, ADOT has implemented solutions that promote safe travel while protecting wildlife and connecting ecosystems in some of the most heavily-traveled migratory corridors, the release stated.

These projects include wildlife underpasses and elk crossings along State Route 260 east of Payson, desert bighorn sheep overpasses near Hoover Dam on US 93 and two wildlife crossing structures on State Route 77 near Tucson.

By partnering with AZGFD, these efforts have increased vehicle-travel safety while preserving and protecting wildlife, noted the release.

For example, a fencing project linking three existing crossing structures on SR 260 reduced elk-vehicle collisions by 98 percent during a six-year span, stated the release.

When traveling in rural areas, drivers are encouraged to heed signs indicating areas where wildlife is prone to cross roads. Obeying the speed limit and paying attention to the shoulders of roads will also reduce chances of hitting an animal, the release stated.

Here’s some tips:

  • Since deer are most active in early mornings and evenings, if you see one animal there are probably more so slow down.
  • Typically, you should not swerve to avoid hitting the animal, but stay in your lane and firmly brake.
  • If it is a very large animal – there is no oncoming traffic and the shoulder is safe on either side of the road – it may be safer to swerve rather than risk the impact from a large animal like a cow, horse or adult bull elk.

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