Spring has sprung – or it’s trying to. Across the country spring rain is coming down, daffodils are peeking through the soil in the midwest and temperatures are starting to show promise of warmer days. Spring signals a new beginning; earth starts showing signs of life in hidden corners. With the coming of spring, many animal species begin their birthing seasons, often leading to additional wildlife on and along the road.
Across most of the country, many people associate deer with vehicle-wildlife collisions. Deer are most active in autumn, during these large mammals’ breeding season, but they are active year-round throughout their range. While large animals account for the most damage, animal collisions are traumatizing and, in many cases, avoidable. According to the State Farm annual study, U.S. drivers have a 1 in 116 chance of a vehicle-animal collision. Every year there are 1 to 2 million collisions with large animals in the U.S, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
While deer breed during the autumn, spring is a time when you start to see mother animals caring for their young and traveling more frequently. During spring and early summer, it’s not uncommon to notice a parent animal with one, two or several young in tow. These small lines of animals create hazards for drivers – but a few key driving tips will help you maintain safety.
Maintaining focus on the road doesn’t mean keeping your eyes straight ahead; an alert and focused driver scans the area in front of them including the sides of the road. In urban areas, animals near the road are more common near retention ponds and small pockets of wooded or natural areas amid the buildings. In rural areas, the possibility of animals and their young is nearly every area.
Don’t swerve! Swerving is a common reaction to avoiding an accident, whether it be with another vehicle or creature. Swerving can create additional issues, including multiple vehicle collisions, going off the road or a serious one-vehicle accident. Use your brake and, if no other cars are around you, brake hard to avoid the collision. If you’re able to brake in time, honk your horn to try and hurry the animal off the road, and turn on your hazard lights to warn drivers behind you.
Dusk to Dawn
Crepuscular animals cross the road at dusk or dawn to feed and move about. Other animals are nocturnal (active at night) or diurnal (active during the day). The hours between dusk and dawn are common times for animal crossings. If there are no drivers coming toward you, use your high beams (brights) to give yourself additional light to see animals – many mammals have reflective eyes, as well, which show up in headlights and your high beams.
Following these tips and ensuring your teen driver is aware of what is going on around them may help prevent collisions that are terrifying, traumatic and dangerous. Read other driving tips on our blog.