In a given year, there are over 360,000 crashes involving animals on the roadways. This accounts for 12,000 human injuries per year and approximately 200 human fatalities. Wildlife in the roadways isn’t just a safety issue for the animals but for people as well. In this blog, we cover the common types of wildlife involved in collisions and avoiding collisions with wildlife on the roads.
Top Animal Sightings by Drivers
Across the U.S., here are the top animal sightings by drivers on the roads:
- Deer – 13%
- Squirrel – 12%
- Bird, Cat and Dog – 11%
- Rabbit – 9%
- Raccoon – 8%
- Skunk – 7%
- Turtle – 6%
- Coyote – 4%
Most people have sighted deer on or near roadways at some point as a driver. This shouldn’t be surprising considering there are over 30 million deer in the United States. Collisions involving all animals cost about $4 billion each year.
The important thing about animals in the roadways is knowing how to prevent or avoid a collision from happening.
- Be aware and heed wildlife warning signs
- Keep your speed in check
- Consider whether it is safe to swerve or brake if an animal enters the roadway
- Drive defensively
- Think “what if” an animal ran into the road, how would you avoid it?
In 70% of states in the U.S., deer is the most common animal to be struck by a driver. In five states, birds are more likely to be struck (HI, AZ, UT, OK and DE) and in Wyoming only, cats were the most common animal to be struck by drivers. Wider roads and faster speed limits have caused an uptick in the number of animals struck on the road in recent years. No one wants to strike an animal. About 45% of drivers report swerving to avoid hitting an animal while 24% report braking to avoid hitting an animal.
What can be done? Advocate for more signage warning of common area wildlife that wander into the roads. Also you can advocate for the creation of land bridges and wildlife bridges and crossings can help give animals a way to move across an area without ending up in the road. Arizona already has built some successful land bridges for wildlife that has decreased the number of collisions with wildlife in the roads.