Accidents involving wildlife result in millions of dollars in damage and injuries every year. Crashes with animals are notoriously underreported, especially when the driver swerves to hit an animal and ends up runninginto something or someone else instead.
Big game populations, particularly deer, are on the rise. When you combine the increased number of animals with the increase of cars on the road, the result can be deadly. While various methods of keeping wildlife away from roadways are being explored, every driver can practice safe driving methods to help avoid accidents with animals.
Animal Crossing Season
While you should be on the lookout for animals crossing the road at all times during the year, wildlife is more likely to appear in the summer and into the fall. Most collisions with animals occur between dusk and dawn. Decreased visibility makes wildlife even more hazardous, but they can be dangerous during the daylight hours as well.
Moose and deer are perhaps the most dangerous for drivers, simply because of their size and shape. They are more likely than other animals to hit the hood of the car and roll into the windshield, which can cause extensive damage to vehicles and injuries to drivers and passengers.
A moose’s height makes it extra precarious while a deer is more likely to “bounce” off a bumper. A moose is also even harder to see at night because of its darker coat and eyes that do not reflect light the way a deer’s eyes would. Regardless, a moose’s height often makes its eyes higher than the average headlight beam.
Deer populations peak in October and November, which is mating season. It is also time for deer to migrate to their winter living areas as well.
Defensive Driving Techniques to Avoid Animal Incidents
Using defensive driving techniques can help you avoid collisions with animals. Use the following tips and information to keep you and your loved ones safe this fall.
- Stay Alert in Areas More Likely to Have Wildlife
If you are driving through a wooded or secluded area, especially at night, it is a good idea to slow down. Be extra alert for wildlife. You need to be able to react quickly if an animal runs into the road or seemingly appears out of nowhere.
You can ask your passengers to help you stay on the lookout for animals. Be sure to scan both sides of the road, not just the middle or right side. Use your high beam lights if you are away from other traffic. Your high beams will hopefully allow you a couple of extra seconds of valuable reaction time.
- Give an Animal Plenty of Space
When you see an animal on the side of the road, slow down until you have safely passed it. Animals on the side of the road may bolt into the street suddenly, so be on the lookout. Remember, where there is one, there are likely more. Be on the lookout for more woodland friends. If there are other cars nearby, it is a good idea to turn on your flashers to warn them that you are slowing or stopping.
- Brake But Do Not Swerve
If an animal suddenly appears on the road, you should brake firmly, but avoid swerving. Swerving is more likely to cause additional damage and threaten the safety of others.
If you have time, honk your horn in short bursts to frighten the animal away. In situations where the animal remains on the road after you have come to a complete stop, go around the animal carefully but avoid leaving the roadway. Be sure to watch for oncoming traffic.
Getting Help After an Accident
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with an animal, seek medical attention immediately. In these situations, having a legal claim is rare, but it is possible. Talk to our team at Diamond & Diamond for more information. Call our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now. We offer free consultations and case evaluations.