It’s not unusual for Michigan drivers to encounter a deer, racoon, or squirrel while driving. Unfortunately, drivers are not always able to safely steer clear of wildlife. Accidents involving large animals can cause damage to your vehicle, or worse, injuries or fatalities to you or your passengers. Learn how to avoid hitting animals while driving or what to do if a collision is unavoidable.
First Things First
Check your insurance policy to find out whether animal collisions are covered. If not, call your adjuster and make the necessary changes to your coverage.
Pay attention to yellow wildlife warning signs. Remember you're more likely to encounter wildlife in heavily wooded and rural areas or near water sources. If possible, use your high-beam headlights, especially at dawn or dusk. Watch for glowing eyes along the side of the road, because you may be able to spot an animal about to attempt crossing.
Avoid Collision SAFELY
Drivers instinctively apply brakes and swerve to avoid hitting animals. The manner in which you avoid hitting animals can make a big difference. According to Michigan State Police, "Each year, there are nearly 50,000 reported vehicle-deer crashes in Michigan. About 80 percent of these crashes occur on two-lane roads between dusk and dawn. The most serious crashes occur when motorists swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or a fixed object, or when their vehicle rolls over." The idea is to safely avoid a collision, if possible, but if not, to minimize the inevitable damage. Hit your breaks or steer clear if you must, but do so with awareness and intention -- not panic.
How to Apply Breaks
Do not slam on your breaks, but apply your foot to the pedal quickly, firmly, and evenly. Ease up on the breaks just before impact, because this may keep the animal from going through your windshield.
How to Steer Clear
Losing control of the vehicle, including vehicle rollover, can occur if you swerve too quickly and drastically. Grip the steering wheel firmly and redirect while consistently maintaining control of your lane. Steer toward the direction from which the animal is coming.
Pull over and use your hazard lights. Call 911, if necessary. Stay away from injured animals, and call animal control. Take pictures for insurance purposes.
Encountering animals on the road is inevitable. If you feel you will not be able to safely avoid hitting the animal, let your focus turn to minimizing damage to yourself, your passengers, and your vehicle. If your vehicle is damaged and that damage involves auto glass, count on Troy Auto Glass to replace your windshield or other auto glass.