Changing your clocks with your driving habits during daylight savings time can help prevent wildlife-vehicle collisions. Wildlife experts advise drivers that wildlife is on the move so be aware, drive with caution, and slow down especially at night.
This Sunday, Nov. 1, marks the end of daylight saving time in Colorado. This means drivers will set their clocks back an hour, see dusk earlier, and witness more wild animals migrating to their wintering habitats during rush hour traffic on highways.
As the sunlight fades during high-volume commutes, Colorado Parks and Wildlife asks drivers to stay alert and share roads with wildlife. Autumn is peak seasonal mating and migration for many species, so drivers should watch for wildlife as they begin to experience darker commutes.
“We all want to move around safely, humans and wildlife alike,” said District Wildlife Manager Devin Duval, who oversees the Vail area. “With colder weather, big game species are moving to lower ground, which is “We all want to move around safely, humans and wildlife alike,” said District Wildlife Manager Devin Duval, who oversees the Vail area. “With colder weather, big game species are moving to lower ground, which is where most of the state’s roads and communities are found, so we encourage drivers to be mindful of wildlife.”
Safe Driving Tips
CPW and CDOT offer several precautions that should be followed year-round, but especially during the fall daylight savings time change.
- Slow down. Moderate speeds maintain a driver’s reaction time and allow an appropriate response to animals on or near roads.
- Stay alert. Pay close attention to the roadway, particularly between dusk and dawn.
- Scan ahead. Watch for movement and shining eyes along roadsides.
- Obey traffic signs. Many highways have wildlife warning signs intended to alert motorists of known wildlife movement areas. Though incidents can happen anywhere, transportation authorities attempt to reduce the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions by posting signage and lowering speeds in areas where wildlife are active.
- Always wear a seat belt. Unfortunately, not every collision is avoidable, and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration states that the risk of serious injury and death in a crash is reduced by half when seat belts are worn.
Drivers involved in a wildlife-vehicle collision should report the accident to the Colorado State Patrol by calling *CSP (star key and 277).
Seasonal Animal Movement
The Colorado Department of Transportation also advises motorists to stay vigilant, drive with caution and slow down, especially now that several snowstorms have taken place and pushed wildlife from the high country into lower elevations.
“Big game like deer, elk and moose are making their way to the terrain where they can more easily find food and water,” said CDOT Wildlife Program Manager Jeff Peterson. “In Colorado, approximately 4,000 wildlife-vehicle collisions are reported each year. The seasonal movements of these animals can cause increased wildlife-vehicle “Big game like deer, elk and moose are making their way to the terrain where they can more easily find food and water,” said CDOT Wildlife Program Manager Jeff Peterson. “In Colorado, approximately 4,000 wildlife-vehicle collisions are reported each year. The seasonal movements of these animals can cause increased wildlife-vehicle collisions if drivers are unaware more wildlife is on or near the roadways.”
In an effort to decrease the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions in Colorado, CDOT has collaborated with CPW to study, gather data and construct migration structures designed for wildlife to safely cross busy highways. Migration structures include wildlife overpasses, underpasses, escape ramps, and wildlife guards and high fences along highways.
Colorado Highway 9
One successful wildlife transportation solution is the Colorado Highway 9 Wildlife Crossing Project. In 2016, CDOT in cooperation with CPW and many other partners completed Colorado’s first-of-its-kind wildlife overpass and underpass system on Highway 9 between Green Mountain Reservoir and Kremmling. This innovative solution to keep wildlife off a busy road resulted in a 90 percent reduction in wildlife-vehicle collisions in that area. To learn more about wildlife crossings in Colorado, visit codot.gov.
Article by Bridget Kochel and Lisa Schwantes. Bridget is a Statewide Public Information Officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Lisa is the Regional Communications for Colorado Department of Transportation.