Most drivers have encountered some form of wildlife during their travels. Reacting in these situations can be difficult because no one wants to injure an animal. Recently, video surfaced of drivers in Minnesota who swerved or slammed on the brakes to avoid a family of ducks on the highway. Fortunately, the Minnesota Star Tribute reported that no one was injured.
Animals do pose a serious threat to motorists. On average, a collision with some form of wildlife occurs every thirty-nine minutes, according to DMV.org. One out of every seventeen car collisions involves wandering wildlife. Eighty-four percent of all wildlife collisions occur during good weather. The average repair cost of a collision between a car and a deer is $2,800. Two hundred motorists die in the United States each year from a car crash involving wildlife. Here are some safety tips for the next time you encounter an animal while driving.
When you see a yellow animal crossing sign, you should slow down. These signs are placed in areas with frequent animal activity. Animals are most active during dusk, dawn, and night. Deer are most frequently hit during dusk and dawn; bears and moose are hit most frequently at night. Also, deer, elk, and antelope travel in groups. If you see one of these animals, slow down because there will be more following. Even though wildlife may be off to the side as your car approaches, animals may suddenly leap into the road. Approach slowly, and consider using your car’s horn.
For animals smaller than adult deer or moose, you should slow down or stop in a straight line, but only if there is no other vehicle close behind you, according to the Globe and Mail. Keep in mind that there’s a small blind area around your car, so the animal you’re trying to avoid might not actually be in danger.
Typically, you should not swerve to avoid an animal. If you swerve, you might lose control of your car or collide with another car. However, if you encounter a large animal on the road—a deer, moose, or bear—you might have to swerve because hitting the large animal could send it through your windshield. You should only swerve if it is safe to do so. In order to ensure your safety, you should check your rear view window for other drivers, brake as hard as possible in a straight line (you should ease up on the brakes at the last minute if you do not have antilock brakes), and swerve to the back end of the animal because it will likely keep crossing the road. If you cannot safely swerve because there are other drivers present, you should lock the brakes, blare the horn, and duck low behind the dashboard.
If you or a family or friend were involved in a car accident, please call our office for a free consultation so we can discuss your rights and how best to handle your injury claim. There is no charge for speaking with one of our experienced attorneys so call us at 312.422.0500.