Wildlife & Car Collisions

The Federal Highway Administration database claims that on average the total number of reported collisions in the United States is around 300,000 a year. This doesn’t include the other unreported collisions, which would increase the number further. Some of us have been there but colliding with an animal can be a traumatizing experience for all involved. It is crucial that every driver knows what to do when this situation arises. Here are some tips to avoid hitting wildlife that may cross your path while driving, and how you should handle it if you do.

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Precautions Drivers Should Take

Hitting domesticated animals is a risk for any driver, however for some in the more open spaces, colliding with wildlife is also possible to happen. To minimize the risk of hitting wildlife, make sure you are paying extra attention during the hours around sunset and sunrise. Also driving at night, and during peak seasons can be other times where drivers need to keep an eye out. Look for road signs that indicate places where wildlife is more prevalent. Make sure as you are driving you scan the landscape for movement or eyes. Using your headlights also helps keep animals at bay, especially if you are using your high beams. Honking also is something that has been known to scare some wildlife away if you do it early enough.

If you find yourself in a collision situation with an animal, it is recommended that you do not swerve out of the way. Instead, putting your foot on the brakes or sticking to your current speed and getting your head away from the windshield is helpful. This is if you have to drive straight into the animal as it protects you from the possibility of shattered glass.

What To Do If You Hit Something

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Collisions Involving Domestic Animals

If you hit a domesticated animal like a cat, dog, or cow, legally you must contact your local police or animal control. Even if you and your car are totally fine, you must stop and make the call. Similar to wildlife, injured cats and dogs can be dangerous; it is up to you whether you want to give the injured animal first aid or wait for the professionals to arrive. Talk to animal control if you need help deciding what to do, as they are well equipped to handle these situations. You may also want to contact the animal’s owner, and in some areas, it is required that you make an attempt. Do what you would want someone who hit your pet to do in a similar situation.

Deer Collisions

Deer season usually runs from October to December. During these months, the deer are on the move and become more frequently seen on or near highways or in cities. Drivers who have these types of collisions report deer appearing out of nowhere without any warning, and they were unable to avoid them. This time of year is the high season for deer-car collisions. Those collisions can have serious consequences for drivers in terms of injuries and damage to their vehicles. Here we will discuss the kinds of damage a deer can cause to a car.

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Why is it Hard to Avoid Hitting Deer?

Many collisions involving deer happen when it’s dawn, dusk, or dark; which makes it hard to avoid deer. Drivers who have these types of collisions often say the deer appear out in front of their car without warning. This means that they couldn’t avoid hitting them because it was too late to hit the brakes. Products marketed to prevent these collisions include deer whistles, fences, and reflectors, however they have not been proven to work. Turning on your high beam headlights when no oncoming traffic is headed your way does help give you a better view of the road. The headlights can reflect off of a deer’s eyes and it will give you some warning if they are near the road.

The best thing to do to reduce the risk is to be aware of your surroundings during deer season. This is especially useful from sunset to midnight, and directly before or after sunrise. If you see a “deer crossing” sign on the side of the road, take it seriously. Either the area is a popular spot for collisions or deer are known to move through that area.

The Damage Deer’s can Cause

The average insurance claim cost for wildlife & animal collision damage is $2,800. This can change if there are bodily injuries factored in, which would increase it to $10,000. Hitting a deer at speeds of 50-60 MPH will severely damage the front end of your vehicle, especially on compact vehicles like sedans. The average doe could completely total a car this size.

Usually, deer collision damage means you have shattered headlights, crack or broken bumpers, and front-end dents that are repairable but very expensive to fix. Also, the radiator will usually be punctured, and coolant will begin to leak out. If the driver attempts to drive home with these damages, it can cause the engine to overheat. This will put the driver at serious risk of intense damage. If the deer slides up onto the hood of your car and slams into the windshield, the potential for you to be harmed increases substantially. This is because the impact will be more severe, as well as the blindness from the deer, could cause you to swerve and hit something else. This is unfortunately the most likely situation if this happens.

In any case, if your car has been in a wildlife car collision, please give us a call at Stewart’s Auto Body a call. We are here to help you with making sure your car gets restored back to before the accident.