On the road, whether on city streets or the interstate, there are many potential hazards to be cautious of at all times. During our monthly safety meeting, we talked about one specific threat: animals.

Whether it’s wildlife or a domesticated animal on the loose, animals can be a problem no matter what kind of road you’re on or what type of vehicle you’re driving. Here are just a few annual estimates to paint the picture of the seriousness of this problem:

  • 260,000 crashes per year
  • $4 billion damages
  • 150 human deaths
  • 12,000 injuries

Reduce the risk of hitting an animal

Like any other potential danger on the road, you can take steps to avoid hitting animals, therefore reducing injury to the animal, yourself, other motorists, and property.

Pay attention to surroundings-animals often come from nearby wooded areas. Scan the road, side of the road, etc., to be aware of animals that might be wandering near the road.

Reduce speed-when driving along wooded or areas where there are likely to be animals, reduce your speed.

Warn other motorists-if you see animals along the road, even if they don’t seem to be entering the roadway, tap your brakes and your horn to warn other motorists of the threat.

Be aware-if you see one animal, it’s likely that others are nearby. This can be especially true of wild animals such as deer.

Use high beams-use your high beams whenever possible. This will help you spot potential problems sooner.

Minimize distractions-this is true all the time but reduce distractions while you’re driving so you can spot potential hazards more quickly.

When you can’t avoid animal contact

Sometimes, you can’t avoid animals coming into your path. When that happens, here is what we recommend:

  • Don’t swerve, as this can cause you to lose control of the vehicle and/or hit other vehicles.
  • Brake to slow your trajectory, and if you hit the animal, it will lessen the impact.
  • Aim for the back of the animal if hitting it is unavoidable.
  • Grip the steering wheel tightly to maintain control
  • Remain calm and in control of the vehicle.

Do you know when mating season or the end of hibernation season is for local wildlife? That means they are more likely to be near the roads and traveling through their territory. We encourage you to keep animals and all other potential hazards in mind as you travel the roads!