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What to do When Striking a Large Animal with Your Vehicle

Every year over a quarter of a million vehicles are involved in crashes with animals. Small deer can weigh 150 lbs. or more with Elk and Moose ranging to 1,500 lbs. This massive weight, combined with the speed and weight of a vehicle can lead to devastating results. An accident with an animal can be alarming, frightening, and unsettling. While only about 200 out of over 40,000 traffic deaths annually are animal-related, the experience can be traumatic. What should you do in the event your vehicle strikes an animal?

  1. Move your vehicle safely off the road.

You don’t want your vehicle to be hazard for other drivers. That makes it important to drive your vehicle off the roadway, if mechanically possible. Turn on your flashers to alert other drivers.

  1. Assess whether the injured animal is nearby. 

A large animal injured from being struck by a car can be extremely unpredictable and dangerous. If the injured animal is nearby, avoid the temptation to try to assist it. Stay inside your car until help arrives.

  1. Call for assistance.

Immediately call for assistance and report the incident. This can be very important when an insurance claim will follow. If you or any passenger feels they have sustained an injury, treatment should be sought immediately.

  1. Notify your insurance company.

Of course, you’ll promptly want to notify your insurance company of the incident and follow their instructions for filing a claim.

There are some ways to avoid or minimize damage if you see an approaching animal. If an animal is approaching from the right side, you could steer toward the right, attempting to pass behind the animal. You should also be aware that many large animals will roll over the top of a vehicle, often causing damage to the center of the roof. This means drivers should lean toward their door if striking an animal looks eminent.

The chances of striking an animal with a vehicle increase in the spring and fall and in the early evening and morning hours.

Be particularly cautious when driving in rural areas and be aware of any movement to the left and right of the roadway. Striking a large animal in a vehicle can be an unforgettable experience one should take every step to avoid.

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