Nearly 1.5 million car accidents will occur this year as a result of animals (according to State Farm). From those 1.5 million accident, 10,000 will require medical care for injuries suffered, and about 150 will not survive the crash.
As thanksgiving approaches, I am reminded of a very severe accident I was in several years ago as a result of a deer. Deer and other wild animals are very unpredictable and often act erratic as a vehicle approaches. It is usually our natural instinct to swerve to avoid the animal, however this can cause even more harm.
After my collision and my recovery, I learned as much as I could about wild animals on the road and ways to avoid them. In order to avoid serious injuries or death, damage to your vehicle or harm to others, consider these tips:
1. Break instead of Swerving: Even though you would never want to hit an animal in your path, swerving can cause you to lose control of the vehicle. Losing control of your vehicle can become much more deadly than hitting the animal. If the animal darts out, try to brake in time to prevent a collision, and do your best to avoid turning the wheel.
2. Be aware of the Fall Season: Animals have natural instincts to behave different ways based on the season. During the fall in colder climates, animals are on the move, looking for food and wanting to mate. This can often cause them to come closer to human populated areas.
3. Recognize and Adjust: Recognize the risks associated with driving during the fall, especially at dusk or nightfall. Animals tend to be most active during dawn and dusk. In the fall this can be associated with humans typical commutes to and from work. With the days shorter and darker, it can be much harder to see on the road (especially on dimly lit or rural roads). Drive slower so that that you can stop short if necessary. Also, scan the sides of the roads and pay close attention to wooded areas that back up to the road, where an animal may try to cross.