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Road Safety 101: How to Avoid Collisions with Wildlife

Michigan drivers are no strangers to wildlife on the highways – deer, opossums, coyotes and even dogs and cats can cause serious car accidents involving damage to vehicles and injury to passengers. If a deer suddenly darts onto a highway congested with traffic, a collision may be unavoidable. But there are some steps you can take to avoid a collision and protect yourself and your family.

An accident involving a deer can occur at any time, but Michigan’s 2 million deer are most active in the fall and spring. The months of October through January are known as deer mating season and deer are moving during this period.

Simple Steps to Help Avoid Collision with Wildlife:

  • When driving, scan the sides of the highway for deer. A deer’s eyes will reflect the headlights of your vehicle.
  • Keeping alert, scanning the road for movement and animals can help you be prepared to react if needed. If you see a deer, slow down.
  • Approximately 80 percent of collisions occur on two lane roads in Michigan. Collisions with deer are more prevalent on roads with higher posted speed limits.
  • Deer are typically active around dawn and dusk, and accidents are most prevalent between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., which includes evening commuting hours.
  • Be especially attentive for deer along stretches of highway near the yellow, diamond-shaped signs warning of a deer crossing.
  • Deer travel in packs, so if you see one deer cross the highway, others may be following.
  • Obey posted speed limits and never drive faster than what is safe for the current road and weather conditions. Speeding decreases your reaction time, but causes a more violent impact if you collide with wildlife at a high speed.
  • Never litter! Food debris attracts wildlife to the side of the road.
  • If you hit a deer, pull off the side of the road, turn on your emergency flashers and contact the nearest police agency to report the accident and your insurance company.

According to Michigan state police, motorists were involved in 46,469 collisions with animals in 2014. The collisions resulted in the death of 5 motorists, 859 injuries, and damage to 45,600 cars.

Michigan motorists were involved in 330 accidents caused by trying to avoid hitting a deer, including 1 fatal accident and 65 accidents resulting in injuries.

In the event you find yourself in an unavoidable situation, it is important to remember not to swerve. Swerving puts you and other drivers in danger. Swerving out of your lane could cause you to lose control of your vehicle, hit other vehicles or strike the animal in a less-than-desirable area on your vehicle. Although it may be frightening, hitting a large animal head-on can help you avoid a roll-over or collision with another vehicle.

Domestic Animal Accidents

Although deer, elk and large animals can cause major accidents, domestic animals can also cause serious collisions. Especially in residential neighborhoods, it is important that you are attentive and try to avoid collisions with dogs and cats.

Smaller animals may be hard to see, but could still cause considerable damage to your vehicle, particularly if you swerve to avoid them. Just as with larger wildlife, it is important to remain in your lane. Swerving to avoid a crash may risk a collision with pedestrians as well as other vehicles.

What to Do if You Hit an Animal

Have you hit an animal? Don’t panic. There are some simple steps to take to ensure you and your fellow drivers are safe. First, pull to the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers that there has been an accident.

Second, make sure that you contact local authorities to alert them to the accident.

Lastly, by law, you need to stay at the scene of the accident until authorities arrive. Document any damages to your vehicle and report the time and area that the accident occurred.

If another driver swerves to avoid hitting a deer or other wildlife and causes a car accident that injures you, you may have a claim for compensation.

Contact Goodman Acker P.C. today!

If you have been involved in a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence, speak with an attorney at Michigan’s most trusted law firm, Goodman Acker P.C. Our legal team strives to ensure each client has the best possible representation. Contact a Detroit car accident lawyer today to learn more.