Cops warn drivers to be careful swerving for critters 16

Motorists should only sidestep animals on an empty road at a slow speed, warn cops.

“If you want to swerve into oncoming traffic ’cause you want to avoid a chipmunk, wrong move,” said Ottawa police Sgt. Mark Gatien.

“I can see if there’s a moose coming, if there’s a deer coming, this sort of thing, and you have to swerve to do whatever you might have to do.”

A large animal is a different story, he said, “because that sucker can come right through your windshield. It’ll do a lot of damage because the moose, you usually clip at the knees and they end up in your lap because they’re so tall.”

But if there’s a transport truck coming from the opposite direction, “then I’d rather you pile on the brakes and go to the ditch or something, but it’s really a call where you have to be there to know what you’re going to do,” he said.

It can be natural for someone to veer, however, it often causes “more pain than it’s worth,” said Gatien.

Swerving can result in an unsafe lane change charge, yielding a $110 fine.

In other instances, a driver may encounter an animal on an open road and go around, with no harm to the driver or any other person.

“I’m an animal lover and I don’t want to run anything over, but I always tell my wife, ‘if there’s a squirrel crossing the road and there’s somebody coming the other way, try to brake. If you have to run it over, that’s too bad,” said Gatien.

Bottom line: Do not go in the opposite lane.

If you do, “they try to avoid you, they go in the opposite lane, you come back into your lane, they’re already in your lane … it’s just a zoo.”

Drivers should always remember the one-plus-one rule.

“If there’s a deer on the side of the road, there’s probably two. Same with a moose or whatever,” said Gatien.

The rule probably excludes chipmunks and squirrels.

In this sense, drivers should be on the defensive instead of expressing relief after a close encounter with a deer.

“There’s probably another that’s waiting to cross the road right beside it, and your eyes are focused on the one that’s crossing because it’s a cute little Bambi,” he said.

Twitter: @ottawasunkroche

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