For whatever reasons, incidents of vehicles hitting animals on roads in the United States are increasing. According to State Farm, in one year alone 1.2 million accident claims that involved a vehicle striking an animal were filed. The insurance company has also reported that during those five years, there has been almost a fifteen percent increase in animals and cars colliding.
While you might feel sorry for an animal that has been hit by a car, humans are also put at risk by such collisions. For example, deer antlers can puncture windshields, leading to serious or even fatal injuries for the driver or passengers. Animal bones, spines, and teeth can seriously damage tires, causing the car to spin out of control and even potentially roll. At the very least, a car can be severely damaged by a collision with an animal, leaving the car owner to figure out how to remedy the situation.
Animal Behavior Is Unpredictable
First, it’s vital to understand that animal behavior can be wildly unpredictable. Despite that fact, there are measures humans can take to help maintain at least a certain level of control when they cross paths with animals on the road.
When you see road signs that indicate a certain stretch is a common area for animals to cross, beware. Staying alert is vital no matter where and when you are behind the wheel, but in such areas, the likelihood that an animal will jump in front of your vehicle increases dramatically. Speeding in areas where animals are known to cross the road frequently only further increases your chances of striking one. The faster you go, the less reaction time you have and the longer it takes to bring your car to a complete stop.
It’s much more likely that you will hit an animal in the night. Your visibility diminishes dramatically after the sun goes down, even if you are in a rural area where there are no other cars and you can turn on your brights. Some animals are more active at night and combined with the fact that in general there are fewer cars on most roads, certain areas can become loaded with animals that are unaware of any danger speeding around a nearby corner. Animals like deer also freeze when a bright light, like what comes from your headlights, shines on them. The animals might suddenly bolt after standing in the light for a long time, making their behavior even more unpredictable.
Avoiding driving when you are drowsy is another way to prevent accidents with animals. Most people feel tired at night when visibility is already diminished. Their reaction time is further downgraded due to fatigue. You also run the risk of falling asleep at the wheel, and even if you doze for only a moment it can be enough time to not see the animal standing in the road directly in front of your car. Even if you aren’t tired, you need to keep your eyes on the lookout, both in front of the car and to the sides for any signs of animals. If you do see an animal standing on the side of the road, slow down and wait to let it pass before moving on.