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Collisions With Wildlife: Prevention and Aftermath

No type of collision is a good one. However, hitting an animal with your car is especially bad. The animal usually dies, which causes you emotional stress. What's more, most wildlife is big enough to cause significant damage to your car. The best advice is to avoid collisions with wildlife. Read on for tips for such avoidance as well as what to do if you hit a wild animal with your car.

How Do You Avoid a Wildlife Collision?

Generally speaking, you'll be safe if you drive defensively. Be vigilant during trips in rural areas. Pay attention to deer crossing or other signs that indicate high populations of wildlife. Drive more slowly in these areas because wild animals notoriously run or leap into the road, and you want as much reaction time as possible.

During your trip, safely scan the darkness for glowing eyes or the side of the road for animals. Ask your companions to do the same. If you see evidence of animals, slow down even further. Additionally, assume the animal is part of a pack. Even if the one animal crosses safely, others may be behind it. Engage your high beams and horn to scare them.

What Kind of Damage Is Caused by a Wildlife Collision?

You'll likely feel bad if you hit a wild goose or a squirrel, but the animal itself won't cause much damage to your car. However, many much larger animals live in the United States. Here are some of the common varieties and their sizes:


  • Moose: up to 1,600 pounds

  • Bison: up to 2,000 pounds

  • Black bears: up to 880 pounds

  • Elk: up to 1,300 pounds

  • Deer: up to 300 pounds


Even if you hit a smaller animal, such as a beaver or a raccoon, the impact can cause damage to your car. If a large animal rolls over your hood and crashes into your windshield, the situation can be life threatening. Even when the collision is relegated to the bumper or front panels, you'll likely face significant body damage.

What Should You Do if a Collision Is Unavoidable?

Even though you don't want to hit a wild animal, they sometimes leap in front of you, which makes a collision unavoidable. Though your intuition will tell you otherwise, your best course of action is to keep the collision unavoidable. Don't slam on your brakes because you might get rear-ended. Likewise, don't swerve because you may collide with something else.

In fact, when you realize the collision is unavoidable, do brake firmly, but don't slam on the pedal. At the very last moment, ease up on the brake. When you slam on the brake, the front of your car dips. This dip can encourage the animal to roll up onto your hood and crash through your windshield.

If you're about to hit a large animal, lean toward the door or slouch down as much as possible. The animal is more likely to crash through the center of the windshield, and you want to avoid that impact as much as possible. If it rolls up onto the roof, it can crush the middle down, which is another reason you don't want to be in the center of your car.

What Should You Do After an Animal Collision?

Your first step, of course, is to regain control of your vehicle. Pull over if it's safe to do so - that is, if the collision didn't stop your car. After that, engage your hazard lights and check yourself and your passengers for any injuries.

Depending on the severity of the impact and any injuries, your next call may be 911. If the dead animal is blocking a live lane of traffic, you'll want to contact highway patrol. The impact may not have killed the animal, though. In that case, maintain your distance - ideally, stay in your car. An injured animal is unpredictable and possibly aggressive.

Try to avoid a collision with a wild animal. If you do unfortunately collide with wildlife, take many pictures of the damage for your insurance claim. Jim's Auto Body can repair any damage caused to your car by a wildlife collision.

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