You’re driving west along Highway 18, and pass a dead elk partially obstructing the eastbound lane. Just then, a vehicle headed east appears on the horizon. How do you warn them? Do you flash your lights? Honk and yell? Try to somehow gesture that there’s an obstruction?
“Indeed that is an interesting question, and a difficult one to answer,” said BC RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Chris Manseau. “I know in the north where I used to police, the public was normally so accustomed to having wildlife on the road that a simple flash of the headlights to oncoming traffic would alert them to upcoming hazards. It’s very difficult to inform oncoming traffic in a safe manner, even in a fully marked police car!”
Though ICBC’s driver’s licensing documents teach drivers strategies for dealing with all sorts of hazards in a driver’s path, the Learn to Drive Smart manual doesn’t tell new drivers how to alert others if there’s a dead one or herd of some type close by or in the way.
“I’ve scanned all information at ICBC.com and cannot find any information about safe methods for alerting oncoming drivers,” Manseau said. “The most relevant information I can find is on pages 15-16 of https://www.icbc.com/driver-licensing/Documents/drivers8.pdf where it outlines how to drive in areas where wild animals are present, how to remain vigilant for them, and how to safely (if possible) avoid a collision.”
The BC Conservation Officer Service couldn’t answer the question either.
“BCCOS does not have an official rule about warning others about wildlife on the road,” confirmed a spokesperson.
With no hard and fast rules, drivers are on their own when it comes to managing wildlife on the road and warning oncoming traffic, but giving your fellow drivers the head’s up is helpful.