Chet Skwarcan is an award-winning engineer, writer, and industry innovator in the field of traffic engineering. He is known for leveraging his creativity, logic, and technology to solve today’s engineering challenges.

Car versus Critter

How to Respond When an Animal Runs in Front of Your Vehicle

Hitting an animal while driving is not only expensive (veterinarian fees are on the rise) but also dangerous (over 25,000 human injuries per year in the U.S. alone). Here are some tips to help avoid a serious collision:

●      If the animal collision is unavoidable, stay in your lane and apply the brakes — approximately 50% of all animal-related vehicle accidents are because the driver swerved to avoid the animal.

●      A collision is most likely in the early morning (5–9 a.m.) and evening (4 p.m.–12 a.m.), when deer are more active — be especially alert during these time frames.

●      Interestingly enough, collisions occur mostly on straight, low-volume roads (90% occur on 2-lane roads).

●      The most common animal collision is with deer — usually along roads with diverse edge habitat (transitions from cover to more open habitat).

●      Use high-beam headlights whenever possible — you will spot the animal sooner and have more time to react.

●      Many animals travel in groups — where there is one there are likely more.

●      If you are between the ages of 15-24, you are more likely to be involved in an accident with a large animal than any other age group — somehow they know…

And larger animals such as cattle do even more damage. But the worst animal to hit is a camel, as their body height above the ground likely results in a half-ton body in your front seat. Even trucks equipped with grille guards suffer major damage from a camel. In fact, in certain areas of Australia, traveling between dusk and dawn is restricted. But if you must drive at night, drive slow and prepare to brake. Most accidents result from a driver swerving to avoid hitting an animal. Hitting a kangaroo or wombat in a car substantially damages the vehicle. And if you hit the kangaroo when it has hopped, it may well end up coming through the windshield and keep you company while you wait for the tow truck.

Chet Skwarcan (traffic engineer, author, unique insights) with over 25 years of traffic engineering experience — online ideas available at