William E. Van Tassel: Wild animals on the roadway are always unexpected and their actions are erratic and unpredictable. Whether it's a deer or squirrel or even a dog, drivers can avoid becoming involved in a collision with any animal by knowing doing what to do and what not to do.
To reduce the likelihood of colliding with an animal, be sure to use your eyes to continually scan the road ahead. Looking ahead helps provide more time to react if an animal is spotted. In rural and forested regions, wild animals are a serious traffic problem.
Not only are they unpredictable, the size of wild animals varies from as small as a squirrel to as large as a muse. Be alert for wild animals at all times and be especially careful at dusk, dawn and night time. In particular be on the lookout for dear, which are the most commonly struck animal.
If there is no oncoming traffic, use high beam headlights to help spot animals sooner. This can allow time to slow down, change lanes or honk to scare the animal away.
But if a collision is unavoidable, apply the brakes firmly and remain in your lane. Swerving to avoid an animal could result in a dangerous off-road situation. But the chance of injury to you and your passengers increases dramatically. If you're involved in a crash, you should notify local law enforcement immediately. Also record the incident's date, time and location and take pictures to help document the event for insurance purposes.
Whether big or small, fast or slow, animals all pose a risk for drivers. Use these tips to be prepared for any animal that could run in front of you.