- 1-2 million wildlife-vehicle collisions occur annually in the US. Of these wildlife-vehicle collisions, around 200 people were killed and over 26,000 people were injured.
- Approximately $8 billion worth of property damage happens due to wildlife-vehicle collisions every year.
- Some ways to avoid wildlife-vehicle collisions include staying alert, learning about wildlife mating seasons, and following the speed limit.
If you haven’t experienced it yourself, then you’ve probably heard stories of drivers crashing into deer and other animals while driving out on the highway. People driving in the city aren’t completely safe from wildlife-vehicle collisions either, especially since many cats, dogs, and raccoons roam the streets unchecked.
If you’re wondering how common these accidents are, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with some facts and figures concerning wildlife-vehicle collisions.
Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions: How Likely Are They?
1 in 127 American drivers have hit an animal while driving in 2023 alone, and roughly 1-2 million wildlife-vehicle collisions occur annually in the US. Of these wildlife-vehicle collisions, approximately 200 people were killed and over 26,000 people were injured.
The severity and frequency of these cases vary from state to state. However, the fact that people have died because of these collisions means drivers need to be more careful around animals when on the road. This is especially true for drivers on their way to national parks since these areas are full of wildlife.
Still, drivers have more to lose than their lives when collisions like these are involved.
An estimated $8 billion worth of property damage happens due to wildlife-vehicle collisions every year. So don’t underestimate the damage crashing into an animal can do to your vehicle, especially larger ones like deer, elk, and moose.
Top 10 States Where Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions Are Most Likely to Happen
- West Virginia (1 in 37 drivers)
- Montana (1 in 47 drivers)
- Pennsylvania (1 in 51 drivers)
- South Dakota (1 in 53 drivers)
- Michigan (1 in 54 drivers)
- Wisconsin (1 in 57 drivers)
- Iowa (1 in 58 drivers)
- Mississippi (1 in 59 drivers)
- Minnesota (1 in 64 drivers)
- Wyoming (1 in 64 drivers)
How to Avoid Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions
Sooner or later, you’ll have to drive across highways that cut through dense forests full of wildlife. If you’re lucky, you can make your way through unimpeded. If you’re not, you might have a run-in with deer wandering the roads serving as unfortunate roadblocks.
Here are some simple tips to help you avoid wildlife-vehicle collisions — or brace for them if one is unavoidable.
The simplest and most effective way to avoid wildlife-vehicle collisions is to keep a sharp eye out for any animals. This might sound obvious, but it’s easy to get distracted or become complacent while driving – especially when it’s dim out.
Animals tend to be most active at dawn and dusk and tend to congregate in areas near woods and water. Many roads have warning signs that indicate common deer crossings and other sites where animals are likely to be, so be sure to keep an eye out for those.
Learn About the Wildlife Mating Seasons
Deer mating seasons, also known as rutting seasons, last from September to November however their activity peaks around October.
Because deer become more active, galloping around to find other deer to mate with, many end up crossing roads where they’re at risk of being run over by vehicles.
Though you should always be wary of wildlife-vehicle collisions while driving near forests and areas teeming with wildlife, you should be extra careful during rutting season.
Use High-Beam Headlights
With the help of high-beam headlights, you can illuminate the surroundings of your vehicle while simultaneously alerting animals that you’re approaching. The light will help you see the animals preparing to cross the road while they’re still in the forest, giving you more time to hit the brakes.
If wildlife doesn’t flinch and scurry at the sight of your vehicle and bright headlights, you can try flicking the switch on and off while honking your horn. The flashing of bright lights along with a sudden loud noise should help scare the animal away, allowing you to continue driving.
Don’t Panic and Swerve
If you’re on a collision course with an animal, don’t swerve to try and avoid hitting it – even if it might mean accidentally crashing into the creature. Instead, remain calm and don’t lose your nerve.
Swerving might seem like the best course of action to take to avoid bumping into an animal on the road, but you’re more likely to put both it and yourself in harm’s way, or worse.
Instead, you should hit the brakes as quickly as possible. Swerving your vehicle puts you at risk of losing control and crashing into a tree or another vehicle.
Follow the Speed Limit
Many car accidents happen because drivers rush down highways and neglect the speed limit, making them unable to slow down in time when an animal runs across the road.
One of the best ways to minimize the odds of driving bumper-first into a wild animal is to take it slow and follow the speed limit. It might be tempting to go as fast as possible on a highway, but speed limits exist for a reason.
Last but not least, littering attracts all sorts of animals, especially when food is thrown away on the roadside.
Not only is littering bad for the environment, but it also puts many animals in harm’s way because the trash you throw from your vehicle winds up on the road or by the border of an animal’s habitat. The litter can entice animals to investigate the trash, luring them right into the middle of the road.
What to Do if You Hit An Animal While Driving
If you do end up crashing into an animal while driving, don’t panic. Instead, take a deep breath to calm your nerves and follow these steps.
- Pull over somewhere safe.
- Check yourself and any of your passengers for injuries that might need medical attention.
- If you hit a large animal and it doesn’t get back up, call the police and inform them that you’ve had a wildlife-vehicle collision.
- Step outside your vehicle to assess the damage and take pictures if necessary. Do not approach the animal whether it is dead or alive.
- If the animal is still alive, contact animal control or a local veterinary office and inform them that there is an injured animal that needs medical attention.
- Contact your insurance company to see if you can get any of the damage from the collision covered.
It’s important to inform local authorities when a large animal gets hit on the road because a dead deer can obstruct highways, turning it into a safety hazard for other drivers.
Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.