Hopefully this is a situation that never happens to you, but if you accidentally hit an animal while driving, there are steps you need to take. From calling and reporting the accident to the police to filing insurance claims, we’ve covered the basics on what to do if you’re driving and hit a wild animal or someone’s pet.
If You Hit a Wild Animal with Your Car
It’s reported that 1 out of every 17 car collisions is due to a driver hitting wildlife that wanders out onto the road. Two lane roads are the most common place for these types of collisions to occur, so chances of these types of collisions happening are very high.
If you hit an animal, make sure you’re safe first.
If you hit a deer, skunk, coyote, or other wild animal, you should turn your hazard lights, then make sure it’s safe to slow down and pull over. Only do so if you’re not causing danger to any other drivers. After pulling over, make sure that you’re physically okay and assess the situation. Try to gauge if the animal you hit is alive, hurt, or dead.
Call for emergency assistance after you hit an animal.
If you do not know the number for any emergency assistance or your local police department, it’s recommended that you call 9-1-1. They can direct your call to the local animal control or police department. Tell them your location, and explain you hit an animal and it may be injured. It helps if you know whether the animal is stuck on the road or not, since an injured animal can be a traffic hazard. Make sure you stay in the area until help arrives.
If you hit an animal and kill it, try to remove it.
Try to remove the animal’s body from the road so it’s not a hazard for other drivers. If you can’t move it by yourself, report to the local police department the location of the animal’s body so they can arrange for it’s removal. This helps prevent scavengers from being attracted to the body and gets rid of any future potential for traffic hazards.
Don’t risk your safety.
If you can’t safely remove the animal you hit from the road or it is too aggressive to handle, don’t attempt to go near it. Injured animals can be very dangerous if they’re scared. Deer are large animals that can easily overpower one person, and animals that bite, like raccoons, can cause serious injuries. Try to use your emergency or hazard lights to warn any oncoming traffic of the injured animal and call for emergency assistance.
If You Hit a Cat or Dog with Your Car
Hitting a cat or dog that is someone’s pet is a more serious incident. A common question is do you have to stop if you hit a cat or dog? The answer is yes. If you hit a cat or dog that happens to be someone’s pet, it is the law to stop and report it to the proper authorities, since pets are considered personal property. If you do not stop and report to the authorities, either by calling the local police department or 9-1-1, you can be charged with a violation.
How to Lower Your Chances of Hitting a Deer or Other Animal While Driving
To lower your chances of hitting an animal, the Humane Society recommends doing a number of things, including:
- Follow the speed limits posted on roadways
- Be cautious and aware on roads surrounded by wood or fields
- Use your high beams when possible
- Scan the road while you drive
Is Hitting an Animal Covered by Insurance?
Typically, most auto comprehensive insurance policies cover hitting an animal. Hitting an animal is considered a covered loss under your comprehensive coverage, which states that collisions with a bird or other animal is covered.
If you are not sure, call your insurance provider and ask. It’s a good thing to know considering the average cost of a car collision with a deer for example, can usually be over $2,000. Larger animals will cause much more damage to your vehicle, and to make sure your car is safe to drive after hitting an animal, it’s important to get it checked out.
Texas Whitetail Deer Season
Texas is one of the best places to hunt deer because of its huge population of whitetail deer.
The Hill Country, which lies between Austin and San Antonio, in particular contains almost half of all the state’s deer.
But this also mean Texas residents need to be careful while driving since the chances of a deer crossing a road are much higher. Texas wardens recommend being more attentive from sunset to midnight, and before and after sunrise as these are the highest-risk times when deer are active. Deer are especially common in the winter, so be extra aware once that season hits. Try not to swerve or slam on your brakes if a deer jumps in front of your car. This could lead to you hitting other cars or losing control of your vehicle. The best thing you can do is maintain speed and direction because sometimes it’s an unavoidable accident.