Do you know what to do if you hit an animal while driving?

I hit a deerHitting an animal while you’re driving in your car can do a surprising amount of damage to both your car, depending on the size of the animal and how fast the car was travelling when the animal was struck.

If you have comprehensive coverage as a part of your auto insurance policy, once you pay the deductible, the repairs to your vehicle will be covered.

That said, the best thing that you can do beyond making certain that you have adequate insurance is to know how to avoid hitting an animal in the first place. It will reduce your risk of personal injury or collision with another vehicle or obstacle, it will decrease the chance of damage to your car, and it can save the life of an animal. Moreover, it will help to keep your costs to a minimum.

Keep the following considerations in mind:

• The majority of animals are struck at dusk, overnight, or dawn. If you must drive during those times, keep your speed down and make sure that you’re paying careful attention, especially if you’re traveling in rural areas where there are more animals (and bigger ones, too).

• Whenever legal and possible, use your high beams. The brighter lights can make it much easier to spot animals as you will be able to spot the reflection in the eyes of the animals, and you will be able to see further, increasing your available reaction time.

• If an animal does run out in front of your car, use your brakes, but hesitate to swerve. Animals that see a swerving vehicle will often travel in the same direction of the swerve. It is best to try to stop, or at least slow your vehicle as much as possible, and allow the animal to make the decision as to the direction it will travel.

• Remember that the animal you see may not be the only one out there. If you spot one, stay alert and keep watch for other animals nearby.

• If you do hit an animal with your car, contact the proper authorities immediately. This may be the police, highway patrol, or state troopers, in addition to animal control, depending on the location. Do not approach or touch the animal. Never leave the scene until you have been instructed to do so by the authorities. Leaving the scene after injuring an animal with your vehicle is considered animal cruelty in many areas and can result in heavy fines or even jail time.

The number of collisions across the country involving vehicles and deer are decreasing, but this doesn’t mean that the problem has been eliminated. Data from State Farm Insurance – the largest auto insurer in the country –has revealed that the numbers have dropped for the third year in a row. They are most common in West Virginia – with a 1 in 44 chance of hitting a dear – and least common in Hawaii – with a 1 in 6,267 chance of hitting a dear. That said, they are recommending that all American drivers remain alert and careful.

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