If it hasn’t happened to you yet, then you’ve probably heard horror stories of deer jumping out of nowhere only to collide with a vehicle. It isn’t just deer, though. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that 1.5 million car accidents occur from hitting an animal.
All of those accidents lead to roughly $1 billion in vehicle damages, 10,000 personal injuries, and 150 fatalities each year in the U.S. So, is there any way to avoid accidents involving animals? While you can’t stop every random encounter, there are preventative measures you can take.
It’s easy to relax and even zone out when you’re not sharing the road with other vehicles. However, this also makes it more difficult to spot animals as other drivers can’t alert you to their presence. Animals may also feel safer when there is no traffic around. This makes it essential that you always remain alert.
One major mistake that many driver’s make is trying to avoid the animal. While it might seem like the right move to make, you’re more likely to lose control and run off the road or wreck into another vehicle. It’s difficult, but the best thing you can do is just keep driving straight and hope the animal moves out of the way.
Use Your High Beams and Slow Down
At nighttime, always use your high beams when you can. This allows you to see further in front of the car, giving you more time to apply the brakes if an animal does stop in the middle of the road. At the same time, slow down and drive cautiously when you’re in an animal-heavy area.
Do Not Touch the Animal After
This might not help you avoid an accident, but it’s a tidbit of information worth knowing. People are injured each year because they think an animal they hit is dead, like a deer, but it springs back to life and causes a personal injury. Also, be careful getting out of the car when there are other vehicles on the road.
What to Do After an Accident
The first step after hitting an animal is to call the police so they can file a report. This will help you with any insurance disputes. Taking pictures of the damage to your car is also vital for the same reason. Next, contact your insurance company and let them know what happened.
You may also need to speak with a legal professional familiar with these types of incidents, like this Denver car accident attorney, in the event that your insurance refuses to cover the damages or gives you a hard time. It happens to more people than you might think.
An attorney can review the situation along with your insurance policy to locate where and why your insurance company must cover the cost of repairs. They may also be able to help you secure a rental in the meantime.