In the summer, more animals tend to be killed on or near roads. As we develop land in what was once wildlife areas, more and more animals are displaced and are forced into areas that are shared with people. Unfortunately, animals do tend to panic around cars and run into traffic when scared, often causing car accidents. A larger animal can cause serous damage to your car in a collision and can even cause serious injuries such as head injuries, amputations, or spinal cord injuries. A smaller animal can cause multiple-car accidents and serious injuries as drivers swerve to avoid the animal. To avoid animal and car collisions, drivers need to:
1) Watch for signs indicating wildlife crossings. In many areas, road signs indicate locations where wild animals are most likely to appear. Slowing down in these areas is important, since speeding ensures you won’t be able to stop in time if you do see an animal on the road.
2) Use extra caution when driving near wooded areas and fields – even when no signs are present. Just because there are no signs indicating a wildlife or animal crossing, that does not mean that there is no chance of animals on the road. Any field or wooded area likely has a number of animals living there, so unless there is a tall fence around the area, scan the wooded area, field, or side of the road to anticipate any animals.
3) Keep an eye out at the car behind them. Keep an eye on your rear-view mirrors and get a sense of how close the car behind you is. If an animal darts out in front of you, this is vital information to know, as it will tell you whether you have enough space to stop suddenly. Since cars generally do stop suddenly to avoid animals, it is a good idea to stay well clear of other cars on the road – leave yourself enough space to stop suddenly if the car in front of you brake without warning.
4) Remember to look for pets. In residential areas, pets and raccoons are abundant in summer. Many people allow their pets to roam in the warmer months, and these animals may simply dart out between parked cars. Worse, small children will sometimes run out after a beloved pet. Slow down in residential areas and scan the sides of the road, especially in areas where parked cars mean reduced visibility.
5) Avoid driving late at night and early in the morning. Nocturnal animals and in fact most animals tend to be most active at these times, when human activity is minimal and when the temperature is cooler. If you must drive early in the morning or late at night, slow down and use extra caution. Adjust your driving to make up for your own fatigue and for the darkness.