The Car in the Landscape

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An Op-Ed by Paul Wimsett

Much has been written about the battle between nature and cars. To hear some folks talk about it, cars are the worst thing to happen to the environment. thousands of miles of the landscape have been paved for roads and parking lots. This paving of nature goes back further than the combustion engine but environmental types seem to narrow the culprit down to the mass ownership of cars.

Do we really need to rehash it again? Well, brace yourself.

It’s worthy of note that between car and nature the latter sometimes wins? There are hundreds of mountains which cannot be tunneled through (sometimes because they are too large, sometimes because tunneling might interrupt a mine or another internal structure), hundreds of bodies of water which cannot be crossed by a bridge and many animals that get in the way of a car.

These animal “trespassings” on the interstate don’t have a good ending for anybody. This means death for the creature but also trauma and injury for the passengers of a car that has the misfortune to collide with it.

We’re talking big animals here, giant moose, deer, and cows. Even if you have a near miss with one of these large animals, it doesn’t mean another member of its pack is likely nearby. This is why you should be extra vigilant if you see an accident caused by one of these animals.

If there is an animal up ahead the best thing you can do is perform an emergency stop. It is ill-advised to try and swerve to avoid the animal as you can end up causing a greater accident with other vehicles on the road. Sounding your horn is as likely to make the animal rear up instead of move. Put your hazard lights on though, to warn motorists, especially if it’s a foggy day.

You are more likely to hit a wild animal near a heavily forested region you are also more likely to hit one in the early spring or late fall. During winter and summer animals are more sluggish and do not travel so far.

It’s human nature to try and comfort an animal in distress but this isn’t advisable with something like a deer or a bigger animal. After all, its hoofs are sharp and it may take its distress out on you.

Deer seem to be the main culprit of wildlife accidents. State Farm reported that there were approximately 1.35 million accidents involving deer between July 2016 and June 2017. On average the damage for an accident was estimated at $4,100. And larger animals such as moose or bear can cause more expensive accidents.

You can install a small whistling device on your car to warn deer you’re coming. I don’t know of a study proving that they work, but if you live in a rural area it might be worth a try.

Different states have different laws about reporting car accidents with animals. It is best to err on the safe side and report them anyway as it will probably help your insurance case. Likely you’ll have to report the accident when you call for a tow.

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