July 11, 1997
(Forest Resources and Agrifoods)
Kevin Aylward, Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, released today the results of an extensive review of moose-vehicle collisions that was undertaken by the Wildlife Division of the department. While the number of accidents has been as high as 900 per year between 1989 and 1991, there has been a decline since 1992 to the present level of approximately 600 accidents per year. This decline is most likely due to a combination of factors including a stabilizing moose population, increased hunting quotas, and increased driver awareness.
"The results of this study show that, despite the potential for serious injury, only 18 per cent of the accidents result in any type of injury, and of these, 90 per cent of injuries are superficial," said the minister. "However, we must remember that since 1983, there has been on average, two human fatalities per year due to moose-vehicle collisions. Therefore there is still every reason to exert due caution and defensive driving habits when travelling in the province."
Seventy per cent of moose-vehicle collisions occur between June 1 and October 31. Seventy-five per cent of the moose-vehicle collisions occur between dusk and dawn during a time when a driver's ability to see is limited by darkness, and moose activity levels increase. Surprisingly, the majority of accidents occur on dry roads, on clear nights - and moreover, on the straight sections of road as compared to curved road. This may be due to decreased attention of drivers to the road on clear nights, as compared to rainy, foggy nights.
This research was based on an examination of seven years of moose- vehicle reports completed by Wildlife Conservation officers and RCMP officers, with cooperation from the Department of Works, Services and Transportation. The department is conducting further research into collision prevention by working with Parks Canada at Terra Nova National Park and Forestry Canada, on a study into the use of roadside habitat by moose and its relationship to the occurrences of moose-vehicle collisions. This ongoing research will help design more effective measures to protect the travelling public from possible moose-vehicle collisions.
Based on this research, the minister would like to emphasize several key factors for the travelling public to keep in mind as the summer recreational travel season begins:
(1) the likelihood of injury is twice as high between dusk and dawn as compared to daytime; (2) the risk of injury is higher for vehicles travelling at highway speeds, so please keep to speed limits; (3) having passengers in the vehicle doubles the risk of injury due to driver inattentiveness. A solution to this would be to have passengers watch for moose too; (4) please remember, seatbelts are mandatory. Vehicle occupants who did not wear their seatbelts were eight times more likely to be seriously injured or killed in a moose-vehicle collision.
"I would like to make the public aware of the potential moose- vehicle collision situation as they travel around this province on their summer vacation," said Mr Aylward, "I would like to encourage the public to practice these preventative measures for their own safety."