Most bison collisions are preventable. There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk.
- Check road bulletins before departing;
- Slow down, especially after dusk and at dawn. Try to schedule your driving on Highways 3, 5, and 7 during daylight hours only;
- If you see wildlife, flash your hazard lights to warn drivers behind you;
- Do not swerve suddenly to avoid animals. This could cause you to lose control of your vehicle or put you in the path of oncoming traffic. If necessary, stop and wait for the animal to clear your path;
- Remember that most animals travel in herds; where there is one there are often more. Adjust your speed and headlights accordingly;
- Use your high beams whenever possible to increase your visibility further down the highway;
- Should you hit an animal, do not approach it. Move to the shoulder of the road and flag down a vehicle to call your nearest Wildlife Officer. Use your hazard lights to warn other traffic.
Each year, collisions with wildlife, particularly bison, cause vehicle damage and injuries on NWT highways. Most incidents occur along Highways 3 and 5. Bison can also be found on and alongside Highway 7.
The period from August through November, when daylight decreases and snow cover is not yet providing contrast between the animals and the road, is the most dangerous for bison collisions. From dusk until dawn is the most dangerous time of day for bison collisions.
The greatest risk of being involved in a bison collision is along the highway from km. 21 near Fort Providence to km. 70. After km. 70, the risk is approximately the same all the way to near Yellowknife. Drivers on Highway 3 must exercise extra caution at all times, particularly from dusk until dawn.
A number of factors have made bison collisions a growing concern. As bison extend their range toward Yellowknife, the risk of collisions increases. Other factors include the increased speed and volume of traffic, the movement and expansion of Mackenzie basin due to flooding in the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary and the straightening, widening and increased maintenance of the highway.
Improving safety related to bison on the highway comes down to drivers making safe driving decisions.