Bad weather and inconsistent maintenance are two of the major challenges that drivers consider when discussing truck driver safety strategies. Less time is spent discussing how to respond when an animal darts out into the middle of the road. While the topic is not often discussed, the statistics for human-animal collisions show that the problem is a real threat to drivers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that 20 percent of motor vehicle fatalities involve a collision with a stationary object on the side of the road. A large fraction of these accidents were caused by initial collisions with animals, and this trend has gained momentum since 1975. Fleet managers can help drivers prepare for the worst by educating them on wildlife strategies.
Know your environment
It’s important for drivers to be aware of their surroundings, especially if they are driving through areas with a large wildlife population. A bit of extra research and planning would allow drivers to highlight areas with high risks of collision as they plan their route. Drivers can reduce these risks even further by becoming more familiar with seasonal populations and how they fluctuate. For example, a driver would naturally be more cautious of deer when driving through a New England state if he or she knew that it was hunting season, according to State Farm.
Focus on the road
Drivers are always considerably safer when their eyes are locked on the road. Focused driving is especially important in areas where deer and elk are more likely to appear. A key sign of animal activity is when you see their eyes reflected in your headlights. Also, movement between you and the lights of oncoming cars when larger animals cross beyond your headlight range. Drivers can keep themselves safe by attentively scanning the road for signs of animal activity. It’s also important for drivers to maintain as good a visibility of the road as possible. High beams can be used to peer ahead for animals that might appear from a distance and under the cover of night.
Obey the law
Drivers make themselves significantly less vulnerable to animal collisions, along with collisions of all types, by simply following the law. For example, most heavily-wooded stretches of road are clearly marked with signs that identify areas with large animal populations. These signs also exist to help drivers to recognize stretches of road where wildlife crossings occur regularly, and following these hints help to make drivers safer on the road. Failure to follow speed limits makes it more difficult to avoid an incoming animal, and drivers who forget their seatbelts are more likely to sustain serious injury after a collision. Thankfully, each of these scenarios is preventable with a bit of forethought.