Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions

Date: December 7, 2021

Zac Thompson, Risk Control Consultant

Look Out! Reduce Accidents with These Good Practices 

As dusk arrives earlier, the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions increases. Each year, there are an estimated one to two million collisions between cars and large animals in the United States and approximately 200 deaths, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

Wildlife-vehicle collisions can happen any time of year. Deer crashes often occur from October through December, at dawn (5-9 am) and dusk (4 pm-12 am). Bear and moose frequently get hit at night.

Avoid Swerving

A driver's first reaction when an animal runs out in front of their vehicle may be to swerve and avoid it. Most injuries and death from wildlife-vehicle incidents are caused by attempting to swerve. Swerving can lead to loss of vehicle control and cause following or oncoming vehicles to crash. Avoid swerving. Instead, slow down, hold the steering wheel straight, and maintain your lane. A moose, or other similar lanky animals, are the only exceptions to the do-not-swerve rule. The impact of hitting a moose may cause fatal or long-term injuries to passengers, as they are more likely to be thrown onto the roof or through the windshield of vehicles during collisions.

Slow Down

Drivers must slow down and stay alert when passing yellow animal crossing signs to allow extra reaction time. Do not rely on deer whistles to cause an animal to move. The data is inconclusive on the effectiveness of these devices.

Pay Attention and Watch Your Surroundings

FHWA reports that according to their (2001-2005) study, 89 percent of all wildlife-vehicle crashes were on two-lane roads. When driving, pay attention, watch your surroundings, and follow these recommended practices.

  • Many animals such as deer and elk often travel in herds. If you see one crossing, others may follow.
  • Scan the tree line often while driving through rural areas.
  • Use your high beams when absent of other traffic and the weather is conducive to do so.
  • Watch for the reflection from eyes during low-light hours. Be aware that the headlights shining directly into an animal's eyes can make them freeze up.
  • Observe the road shoulders. Slow as you approach wildlife on the side of the roadway – they may run into traffic.
  • Remember that road salts used to treat icy roads can attract wildlife to the roadway during the winter months.

Don't put your life or the lives of others at risk trying to save an animal. BITCO is here for you when you need us. To find a local agent near you, click the "Find an Agent" button below.

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For information purposes only. BITCO's blog content does not address all potential circumstances and is not a substitute for business, safety, or legal consultation.

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