Even though we like to think vehicles are the only things allowed on roadways in North America, there’s usually nothing stopping wildlife from crossing roads, highways, and interstates. In Illinois, you might encounter smaller animals like foxes, raccoons, and skunks that don’t do a lot of damage if you accidentally hit them with your car. But bigger animals like bobcats and deer can be deadly if you collide with them.
Just over a million car crashes a year are caused by animal crossings, as reported by the Insurance Information Institute (III). The Federal Highway Administration further elaborates that up to 10% of collisions with wildlife result in injuries to drivers and passengers, which equals out to about 100,000 injuries per year. Most times these injuries are minimal, but sometimes they are serious or deadly.
The Most Common Animal to Hit
This might come as a surprise, but the deadliest animal in North America is statistically the white-tailed deer because it kills nearly 200 people each year from car crashes, according to NBC News. These deaths mostly occur over the span of a few months from July to September, as reported by the Insurance Information Institute. Deer Friendly estimates that there are around 660,000 deer in Illinois, which means hitting a deer with your car is a huge risk in our state.
Deer cause serious injuries and death after collisions mostly because of their size, but also because their hooves and antlers produce hazards. According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, female deer weigh between 100 and 150 pounds, and male deer weigh between 150 and 250 pounds. That’s heavy enough to total your car and injure yourself if you hit them at any speed, let alone a high speed. If antlers or hooves crash through your windshield, the situation can quickly become even more dangerous.
Tips to Avoid Animal Crossing Accidents
Since we have such a large deer population as well as plenty of other wildlife, colliding with an animal is a very real possibility when you’re driving in Illinois. In order to avoid an animal crossing car accident, or to attempt to keep the crash from being serious, here are some tips on what to do:
- Stay Vigilant. While you’re driving, make sure you are always paying attention. Don’t just scan the road, scan the grass and trees along the sides of the roadways as well to spot anything jumping out. If it’s dark out, use high beams whenever you can so that you have higher visibility.
- Don’t Tailgate. When you keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you, it gives you ample space to brake if there is an emergency. Always keep at least two car lengths between you and other drivers so that you always have room to brake.
- Don’t Swerve. Swerving is the most dangerous thing you can do when an animal jumps out into the roadway. As Wisconsin State Trooper Dean Luhman said in a Slate article, “If you see a deer in the roadway, don’t swerve. Hit it. Cars can be fixed or replaced.” Hit the brakes to slow down, but don’t try to avoid the animal.
- Hit Your Brakes. Since you’re not swerving out of the way, you’re most likely going to hit the animal, so you need to slow down to minimize damage. Brake quickly but evenly, and hopefully the collision won’t injure you. As always, you should be wearing your seat belt so that you are held in place if you hit the animal. Best case scenario, your slowing down gives the animal enough time to get out of the way, or you’ll stop before hitting it.
After a car accident, you’ve got a lot to deal with. Not only do you have to worry about the damages to your car, but you also have to focus on your physical and emotional injuries. If the collision was caused by another driver in Marion, they should be held responsible for any damage they caused. At Prince Law Firm, we’ll do everything we can to make sure the liable party is held accountable. We believe you deserve justice and compensation after everything you’ve been through. Contact us for a free consultation today.