Each year, about 1.5 million animal-vehicle accidents take place in the United States, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS. Animal-related car accidents cause approximately 10,000 injuries and 150 deaths annually. Follow these tips to stay safe when you encounter animals on the road.
Watch for animal crossing signs and be aware that when you see one animal near the road it may mean that others are nearby. Use extra caution at dusk and dawn, which are mealtimes for many animals, and in the fall, which is both hunting and mating season for deer.
Reduce Your Speed Carefully
Do not to slam on the brakes if there is anyone behind you, and watch for hazards such as ice or gravel that could cause you to lose control if you brake too hard.
Resist the Urge to Swerve
Unless you have time to check for cars and verify that you can move safely into another lane, don’t risk it. Swerving to avoid an animal can often be more dangerous than hitting it — not only does it risk a crash with other vehicles, but when a collision with the animal is already inevitable swerving may increase your chances of being injured.
Flash Your Headlights and Sound Your Horn
Deer and other animals can become fixated on the headlights of an approaching vehicle. Flashing your headlights or high-beams on and off may break the animal’s trance and cause it to run away.
Wear Your Seatbelt
Most people who are hurt in animal-related vehicle accidents are actually injured in crashes that follow collision with an animal, according to a spokesman for IIHS quoted in the USA Today, so the same safety measures that help protect you from ordinary accidents can reduce your risk of being hurt in an animal-vehicle collision.
Unfortunately, no matter how well prepared you are to react safely to animals on the road, there is no guarantee that other drivers will be as careful. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident caused by someone who was trying to avoid hitting an animal, speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer about the possibility of receiving compensation for your injuries.