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6 Tips to Prevent a Collision with a Wild Animal

Steve Wagner


  • Spring months awaken new road hazards, including wild animals as they come out of hibernation and begin mating rituals.
  • During this time of year, wildlife-vehicle collisions have become increasingly more common for Indiana motorists. These collisions have the ability to create scary secondary crashes with other motorists and individuals who drivers are sharing the road with.
  • Nationwide, 20 percent of vehicle crashes are a result of a secondary crash of which 18 percent result in fatalities.
  • Hoosiers should be extra cautious while traveling at dawn and dusk, and slow down and use extra caution when driving through areas with a high and active wildlife population. And, never follow other vehicles too close.

Prevent a Collision With a Wild Animal and Secondary Crash Risk Will Decrease

When you’re driving in on roadways that are known for heavy wildlife crossings, there are several precautions you can take to stay safe and prevent a collision with the animal or a secondary crash with another vehicle or individual you may be sharing the road with.

  • Scan the road and shoulders ahead of you. Looking ahead helps provide enough reaction time if an animal is spotted. Also, remember some animals move in groups, so when there is one, there are usually more in the area.
  • Use high-beam headlights if there’s no oncoming traffic. Wildlife may be spotted sooner when using high beams. This will give the driver time to slow down, move over or honk the horn to scare the animal away. High beams also help in spotting some animals’ reflective eyes.
  • If a collision is unavoidable, remain in your lane. Swerving to avoid an animal can often cause a more serious crash or result in drivers losing control of vehicles. Apply the brakes firmly and release them just before impact. This will help prevent the vehicle’s nose from “scooping” the animal up and over the hood.
  • Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk. Most animals, especially deer, tend to be more active early in the morning and at dusk.
  • Slow down and use extra caution when traveling through areas with a high and active wildlife population. Be aware of increased wildlife movement in some regions during certain times of year, such as hunting or mating season.
  • Drivers should always wear a seat belt and remain awake, alert and sober.

Always use caution and stay alert because you are at greater risk of creating a secondary crash if you hit a wild animal. Don’t allow yourself to become distracted in addition to following the above tips from AAA.

Secondary Crash Characteristics

The U.S. Department of Transportation defines secondary crashes as “the number of crashes beginning with the time of detection of the primary incident where the collision occurs either a) within the incident scene or b) within the queue, including the opposite direction, resulting from the original incident.” Nationwide, 20 percent of vehicle crashes are a result of a secondary crash of which 18 percent result in fatalities. Several studies have found secondary crashes to share these common characteristics especially where wildlife was the cause of the primary accident.

Two characteristics of secondary crashes are related to the collisions themselves. Rear-end collisions are very common as primary crashes, but studies show them to be even more often occurring in secondary incidents as they account for over 2/3 of all secondary crashes. Speeding, likely impacted by fluctuating traffic speeds after a primary accident, is the most common factor in secondary crashes.

Work with a Car Accident Attorney to Settle Your Secondary Crash Claim

The attorneys at Wagner Reese can assist you in your accident or personal injury claim. There is no risk, as we never collect any kind of fee unless your case is settled or won. Contact us today at (888) 204-8440 for more information or to schedule a free consultation.


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