For those of us who spend a great deal of time driving in and around the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul metro, it's not uncommon for us to have close calls on the roadways with animals. Usually, morning and evening hours tend to be particularly dangerous as deer and other animals become more active, especially in the spring and fall.
The Impact of Animal-Related Automobile Accidents
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that there are over a million car accidents involving deer annually. Those accidents have a huge human and financial toll as they are said to cause the death of some 200 drivers and passengers, along with over 10,000 personal injuries.
Animal-related accidents also cause over a billion dollars in damages to U.S. vehicles annually, including windshield repair, and in many cases, auto glass replacement. While deer are responsible for about 75% of fatal accidents involving animals, other animals frequently cause crashes, too, including:
In some western states, cattle and even bison also cause significant vehicle damage. And in spite of their flying abilities, an estimated 80 to 340 million birds lose their lives to vehicle collisions.
Recently, a Florida woman even made the news when a turtle, propelled into the air by another vehicle, smashed into her vehicle on a busy Florida highway. The turtle forcefully struck her windshield, shattering glass everywhere. Fortunately, the turtle hit near the lower part of the center of the windshield, and the startled driver was able to safely pull over. The turtle survived, in case you’re wondering.
Tips for Avoiding Animal-Related Accidents
While large animals like deer can cause serious damage on their own, many car accidents occur from people swerving quickly to avoid hitting small animals like squirrels. And although it might be your first instinct to quickly swerve, doing so isn’t usually in your best interest. Here’s what to do instead.
Check Your Mirrors
Plenty of animal-related collisions don’t actually end up involving the animal that was on the road. Rather, the driver swerves suddenly and unexpectedly to avoid the animal and ends up colliding with another nearby vehicle they weren’t aware of.
To avoid this, always check your mirrors and your blind spots before you swerve. If there’s a vehicle near you or quickly approaching your vehicle, don’t make any sudden moves. The other driver(s) may not see the animal and may not be prepared to react quickly.
In many cases, it’s not possible to slow down enough to avoid colliding with an animal on the road because the animal unexpectedly runs or flies in front of a fast-moving vehicle. But, when it is possible to let off the accelerator or hit the brakes, opt to slow down rather than swerve.
To give yourself the best chance of avoiding an animal-related accident, keep an eye on the area near the shoulder of the road. Be especially vigilant during times of the day when animals are more active. Paying attention to all of your surroundings can allow you to see animals before they enter the roadway, so you’ll have more time to react.
If possible, change lanes well before you approach the animal. Again, this may not be feasible when small animals run onto the pavement or birds suddenly swoop in from overhead. But, if you’re paying close attention to what’s going on around you, it may be possible to avoid a collision.
What to Do When You Can’t Avoid the Animal
If you can’t slow down, change lanes, or swerve out of the way safely (meaning at a low enough speed to retain control), hit the animal head on. Absorb the impact. Experts agree that it’s often safer for you to collide with an animal on the road than try to avoid it. If you suddenly swerve, you could easily lose control of your vehicle and end up in a ditch or in the path of oncoming traffic.
Handling Auto Glass Repairs After a Collision
If you find yourself needing a windshield replacement or auto glass repairs after hitting an animal on the road, you’re certainly not alone. Millions of drivers need auto glass repairs after these types of incidents every year, and often, insurance covers the cost of service.
If you have you have a comprehensive auto policy, it should partially or fully pay for the cost of a windshield replacement or any other window replacement you might need. Comprehensive insurance covers what are considered “acts of God,” and animals on the road fall into that category.
If you just need minor auto glass repairs for a small crack or chip, it probably won’t make sense to use your insurance unless you have a 0$ deductible. Repairs are relatively inexpensive and won’t likely exceed your deductible, so you’d have to pay out of pocket anyway.
Get a Free Auto Glass Replacement or Repair Estimate
Whether you need a complete windshield replacement or a minor rock chip repair, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team at Only 1 Auto Glass! We have multiple locations throughout the Twin Cities area, and our mobile repair team can come to you if you can’t come to us.
When you need auto glass installers you can count on, give us a call at 651-789-1111 or request a free service estimate online, and we’ll get in touch with additional info.