If you are from Missouri or Illinois you have either hit or swerved to avoid a deer or know someone who has. That time of year is coming again, the fall, when the deer are roaming and cause car accidents, especially in some of the wildlife corridors in St Louis County. So which is safer, swerving or just driving right through the deer?
Most injuries on the road involving animals do NOT occur not when a driver crashes into the animal, but instead when the car crashes following a near-collisions or impact with the animal. It's the evasion, the swerving to avoid hitting the animal that actually causes most of the car accident injuries to drivers and their passengers. It's how a driver reacts when he sees an animal on the road that will be the determining factor in the severity of the ensuing accident.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 173 fatal accidents involving animals in 2009, the most recent year that statistics were available. That same year there were 12,000 car accidents that resulted in injuries involving animals. Perhaps even more shocking is that according to the Insurance Industry for Highway Safety, 1.5 million accidents involving deer occur each year across the country and result in $1 billion in damages.
Much of the accident data reported by the NHTSA involves accidents with larger animals because minor accidents do not have to be reported to the police or to insurance companies. The NHTSA says it has studies showing that 77% of animal-related accidents involve deer while cattle were involved in 10% of accidents. Horses and dogs each make up 6% of the animal-related car accidents.
According to experts familiar with the subject, state highway troopers and researchers, swerving to avoid a collision may actually be more dangerous than simply hitting the animal. Law enforcement officials urge motorists to avoid sudden evasive maneuvers if they are not able to check the surrounding lanes beforehand. If it's safe to make a lane change then the experts say go ahead, but if you're not sure what is going on around you then swerving is usually the wrong choice.
One rule of thumb that the experts agreed on was that if the animal is shorter than the hood of your car and there is no opportunity to change lanes, it's probably best to hit the animal. If, on the other hand, the animal is taller than the hood of the car, then it's best to avoid hitting the animal if at all possible. Sadly, when most drivers are confronted with a sudden decision they make the wrong choice which can lead to deadly consequences.
For information on how to protect your legal rights if you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an accident, call one of our Missouri car accident attorneys today at (314) 863-0500.
Source: "Swerving can be worse than hitting animal on road," by Sue Manning, published at MiamiHerald.com.
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