Wildlife crossing road poses danger to drivers

As summer comes around, more and more animals are crossing our roads (usually to get to the other side, but as for why, we don't know) and it's important to understand the kinds of safety issues that arise from wildlife crossings.

Wildlife crossing the road can pose a risk to all road users.

This article was originally published by Deanna Isaacs via The Auto Reporter.

As summer comes around, more and more animals are crossing our roads (usually to get to the other side, but as for why, we don’t know) and it’s important to understand the kinds of safety issues that arise from wildlife crossings.

According to DMV.org, a collision between a vehicle and wildlife occurs every 39 minutes, with 1 of every 17 car collisions involving wildlife, with more than 89-percent of those happening on roads similar to Juanita – two-lane roads.

Ducks cross this road when there's no vehicles or lives to endanger - lucky ducks.  www.geograph.ie, ©Kenneth Allen

This morning I was nearly part of this statistic as, while traveling along Juanita Drive, I was nearly part of an almost-three-car-pileup involving ducks. I was the last in a line of three cars heading around the s-curves along Juanita Drive, when the first person in the line decided to break heavily for a score of ducks crossing the road.

Now, before I get a plethora of people calling me an animal hater, I am all for braking to save animals – <I> when it’s safe to do so </i>. When it’s safe, being the important part.

It’s not safe on the exit of a blind corner while going full speed and commuters traveling behind you.

StateFarm.com states that, if you think you have time to avoid hitting the animal, reduce speed, tap the brakes to warn drivers behind you, and sound your horn. If there’s no vehicle close behind you, brake hard.

The implied statement is that, if there are vehicles behind you, it’s probably better to hit the animal than risk human life via a terrible accident.

When the road itself isn’t safe, such as having blind corners or there’s not enough room for all vehicles to stop, it may be safer to hit smaller animals, such as rabbits or ducks.

If an animal is struck, call 911 immediately so that an officer can come out and, if need be, put the animal out of its misery.

A collision with a deer would hurt a lot more than one with a duck, use caution.  Credit: Wikimedia Commons

In the more rural areas of Washington State, or other states, hitting an animal may not be the best of ideas, especially if it’s a deer or elk, however smaller animals won’t cause nearly as much damage to cars as a fellow driver hitting one’s back bumper.

According to Farmers, most accidents involve deer; which I have also seen crossing Juanita Drive at peak traffic times of the day, so watch out whether it’s ducks or deer!

In today’s instance, the only reason there was not a three-car pile-up was that the middle driver (the guy in front of me) used the shoulder to get by the initial vehicle that stopped for the animals.

I then came to a stop only one foot from the first cars bumper; if the second car hadn’t swerved out of the first vehicles’ way, many lives may have been negatively impacted by the accidents.

While I am an animal lover, I’m also a lover of my own life and safety; which takes precedence above ducks. My special thanks goes out to the driver who swerved, thus saving my vehicle and (possibly) my life.

For those who think stopping for ducks isn’t dangerous or a serious problem, here’s a few headlines from around the globe concerning people who have stopped, specifically for ducks, and the results were less than favorable.

– Canadian woman gets prison time for causing two deaths when she stopped her car to rescue ducks
– Ducks crossing the road are the cause of an injury accident
– Rollover crash caused by ducks crossing I-95

So, while driving through the our urban areas, don’t just be aware of other drivers, be aware of wildlife and the repercussions of slamming one’s brakes to save them. A person’s life may be lost in the process.

(Photo Credits: Ducks crossing the road, Meaghy, www.geograph.ie, ©Kenneth Allen; Deer on Road, Wikimedia Commons)

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Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
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