Elk darting in front of car

Photo by Holly Pippel

Collisions with Montana wildlife increase during mating season (fall), seasonal migration (fall and spring), and fewer daylight hours (winter). Most wildlife collisions occur around dawn and dusk.

Avoiding a Wildlife Collision

  • Buckle up, drive sober and alert. Follow the speed limit.
  • Look far ahead. Scan roadsides and ditches for approaching animals.
  • Be vigilant at dawn and dusk, and the few hours after darkness.
  • Keep headlights on and use high beams when there is no oncoming traffic.
  • Where you see one animal, expect more to emerge.
  • Don't swerve! Slow and brake to avoid impact.
  • Don't approach or touch a wounded animal. Call MHP at 855-MHP-3777.

What if a Crash is Inevitable?

In certain conditions, there is no real choice except to strike the animal.

If it appears impossible to avoid the animal:

  • Aim for the spot the animal is coming from, not where it is going.
  • Look where you want to go, not at the animal. You tend to drive where you look - if you are looking at the animal, that is where the vehicle tends to go.
  • If you must hit something, try for a glancing blow rather than a head-on hit.
  • Brake firmly and quickly, then look, and steer your vehicle to strike the animal at an angle.
  • Let up on the brake just before you hit the animal. This causes the front end of your vehicle to rise and reduces the chances of the animal coming through your windshield.