When Florida was first settled, the region was known for its natural beauty. The area had plenty of animals and plants. Today, even though the state has a large population, there are still many plants and animals in Florida, and animals can cause a real problem when they share roadways with humans in cars. Each year, Florida attorneys see many car accidents and lawsuits brought about by car collisions involving animals.
In 2003, car accidents involving animals caused 210 fatalities and many more personal injuries, brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. Three-quarters of these car accidents involved deer. Across the country, there are more than 1.5 million car collisions involving deer alone, reports the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Deer themselves lead to over one billion dollars in vehicle damage.
In addition to deer, small rodents, moose, and even birds can cause car collisions when they distract drivers or collide with a vehicle. In addition, drivers sometimes cause car accidents when they swerve to avoid a pet. Recently, a panther was found dead in Polk County, Florida, apparently killed by a collision with a car. The panther was the seventh one to be killed this year.
As developers build into spaces that previously were home to animals, more car crashes seem to result as the animals are pushed onto roads used by humans. There are several things that Florida drivers can do to avoid car collisions with animals:
*Obey speed limits. At night, when visibility is low and many animals are more active, drivers should drive below the limit, especially in rain, fog, or other poor weather conditions. Speeding can contribute to fatal collisions by reducing response time.
*Be especially careful around rural or wooded areas. These tend to have a higher population of animals.
*Be aware of your surroundings. Deer crossing signs and other road signs can show you where deer or other animals are more likely to cross. Slow down and stay extra alert in these areas.
*If you see an animal in the distance, prepare what you might do if it were to jump out in front of your car. Slow down and proceed with caution to avoid surprise.
*Consider taking extra driving courses or defensive driving classes to improve your skills. Many of these classes can show you how to stay in control of your car even when the worst happens.
*If you are surprised by an animal jumping in front of your car, try to maintain control of your vehicle. You are more likely to be hurt if you swerve off the road and you may cause a serious car accident if you veer into oncoming traffic.