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As the temperature begins to drop, wildlife will inevitably venture closer and closer to roads and human civilization. Such familiarity means that deer, moose, and elk will be crossing the road, and drivers need to be prepared to avoid crashing into our animal friends. Car accidents caused by animals can be severe so stay safe with the following tips.
The key to avoiding any obstacle in the road is reaction time. The faster you are driving the faster your reaction time must be in order to avoid a crash. The best thing you can do is slow down and give yourself more time to react. This is doubly true for car accidents caused by animals. If you see a road sign warning that wildlife near you may cross the road, slow down, and be extra cautious. That way, if you happen to see a deer in the road, you will have enough time to hit the brakes and lay on the horn.
Animals like deer and elk travel in groups. That means that if you see one deer or elk, more than likely there are others nearby. Consider the first animal you see as a warning. After spotting one animal, drive carefully and keep an eye out for other members of the pack.
You should try to understand the habits of animals that share your habitat. Some animals run from vehicles, others freeze in the headlights. For example, a moose may not run away from your moving vehicle. A moose may even stand its ground in the middle of the road or run toward your vehicle. Knowing that, be especially cautious if you see a moose in the road. A moose is not a robin; it may not run or fly away at the sound of your vehicle coming around the bend.
You thought that horrible road salt was only good for rusting out your undercarriage. You are wrong. Animals can think it is a treat. If you are driving on newly salted roads, or roads that are often salted, be especially careful to avoid animals. The critters may be standing in the middle of the road enjoying a snack.
With car accident caused by animals, the prevailing wisdom is that is more dangerous to swerve and hit an oncoming vehicle than it is to continue going straight forward and hit the animal. If you cannot stop your vehicle in time and the animal will not respond to you honking your horn, aim for the center of the animal and hope for the best.
If you do end up colliding with an animal, follow the steps outlined in our article on what to do if you hit an animal. In Montana, it is illegal to leave the scene of a vehicle animal collision without reporting the incident.
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