Avoiding Vehicle-Animal Collisions
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, vehicle-animal occur approximately two million times per year, causing about $1 billion in damages. This type of accident increases in the fall and winter seasons each year because of several factors, including mating and migration patterns, inclement weather conditions and reduced visibility due to shortened days.
Though vehicle-animal collisions may seem random, there are a few common sense actions you can take to avoid this type of accident. Pay heed to the tips below, particularly while traveling through wooded and rural areas and along country roads.
– Pay Attention to Traffic Signs
You have probably seen posted warnings along certain roads that indicate the area is a “Deer Crossing” or the presence of some other animal. This signage is often posted where accidents involving animals have occurred in the past, or where animals are regularly spotted.
– Be Extra Vigilant at Dusk and Dawn
During sunrise and sunset, visibility is reduced for drivers. Unfortunately, these are also the times when large wildlife tends to be particularly active. Additionally, large animals like deer have the visual acuity in low light conditions but can be blinded by bright lights, such as headlights, thus the old “deer in the headlights” adage. Headlights will blind deer, rendering them unable or unwilling to move out of the way. Be prepared to stop or maneuver around a deer if it appears the animal is mesmerized by your headlights.
-Where There Is One, There are Likely More
So you are driving along and you spot a deer. Chances are, there are more deer in the area. Remain vigilant and look for additional animals as you drive on.
– Remain Calm
If you see a deer or another animal in the road, apply the brakes and honk your horn. The sound of the horn will often scare the animal out of the roadway. However, this will not always be the case. If the animal remains in the road, try to safely and slowly maneuver around the animal. Avoid other vehicles and do not make any sudden swerves or turns.
In Case Of a Collision
Even if you are extremely cautious and drive with the utmost of care, you may still be involved in an accident with a large animal. Follow the guidelines below if you are in a collision with an animal.
– Never Touch the Animal
Though the animal may appear to be injured or dead, deer and antelope are particularly resilient and you may find that the animal is simply stunned. Never approach an injured large animal. About 130 per year are killed by deer, many by being involved in traffic accidents with these animals. However, deer can also beat humans with their hooves and bucks can gore people with their horns, causing extensive injury and even death. Never approach a deer or any other large animal that appears to be unconscious or injured. If the animal is injured or it appears as though the animal has been killed, stay in your car. Many large animals can withstand being hit by a car or truck. The collision may have just dazed the animal, but if and when it regains consciousness, the result could be detrimental to you.
– Call 911
Call 911 even if everyone in your vehicle is uninjured. If an animal is incapacitated or killed in the collision, notify the police so they can take steps to have the animal removed.
– Document the Damage To Your Vehicle
When you arrive at a safe destination to do so, document any damage that occurred to your vehicle. Write down the incident and obtain statements from any witnesses. File a police report, if the situation requires. The police report will be useful when you file your insurance claim.
– Call Your Insurance Company
Collisions with animals are normally covered under a comprehensive plan. Call your insurance agent if you have questions about your coverage.
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