According to the Federal Highway Administration, there are currently more than 8 million lane-miles of roads throughout the US, with over 6 million of those in rural areas. One important danger of driving in rural areas is the potential for wildlife on the road. Keep reading to find out how to keep yourself and the wildlife a little safer.
If you are driving on a two-lane road with trees or open fields along the sides, your chances of encountering wildlife on the road are much greater. Make sure you are paying attention to the road ahead and your surroundings – especially at dawn and dusk, as this is when most animals become active.
While it may be tempting to just fly along rural roads, your best option is to slow down to the speed limit, or slower if you happen to see animals alongside the roadways. Lowering your speed will increase your ability to react quickly enough if an animal does happen to jump out into the road. Animals, unlike most people, don’t know the dangers of vehicles and crossing the road, so you need to be proactive in trying to prevent accidents.
Generally, if you see one animal on or near the roadway, there is likely another close behind it. Many types of animals travel in groups or packs, and young animals often follow mom wherever she goes. Paying attention when you notice an animal will go a long way in helping both you and the animal make it where you’re going safely.
If you see those deer or bear-crossing signs, take heed – they are there due to the increased danger that has been noted in the area. These signs typically mean that it is well-known that the animals are in the area or that there have been accidents in the past, so slowing down is highly advised. And no, officials do not put the signs there to give animals permission to cross, so they can’t move them to safer areas.
Use High Beams
When other drivers aren’t coming towards you, or you aren’t right behind another driver, use your high beams. This will allow you to see farther and more clearly, and they will reflect off the eyes of any wildlife that might be in the road ahead.
Wildlife in the road is dangerous and can cause significant damage to a vehicle and its occupants if an accident occurs. Exercise caution and use the tips above to stay safe!
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as 5 Essential Things to Know About Wildlife on the Road and was authored by Valerie Johnston.