This time of year, traffic gets a little hectic. Apart from sharing the road with other drivers, you also have a lot of wildlife to contend with! To navigate around these extra obstacles, you just have to be more alert. And understand how to safely share the road with animals. These simple steps should help all Maryland drivers make it through the fall without incident. But if you run into questions, you can always contact Freedom Insurance Agency for clarification!
Look for the Signs
In Carroll County, wildlife like deer, raccoon, opossum, and more are all common! Still, some areas see more of these species than others. Be cautious when you’re driving through a wooded area where animals are known to frequent. If you’re in an unfamiliar place, pay attention to the signs. Roads that have a high volume of wildlife crossing usually have a sign posted (in either direction) to warn drivers. We’ve seen examples that feature deer, ducks, and even frogs! So, when you see one, adjust your speed and up your vigilance accordingly.
As a precaution, always use your lights and slow down during the dusk and dawn periods when animals are known to be more active. These times also provide poorer visibility, meaning you’ll have to be more alert to catch them. Avoid running over any debris left behind by wildlife, too. Although it may not cause an accident, it has been known to damage vehicles and tires in the long run.
Be Smart about Stopping
Emergency stopping for animals is a touchy subject. While you obviously don’t want to cause an accident by running into wildlife, you don’t want to cause one by trying to avoid it either! For example, if you stop suddenly to avoid hitting a deer crossing the road and the car behind you slams into your rear bumper as a result—you could be at fault. But, if they were following too closely, it could also be theirs. Bigger animals tend to give you a little more leeway, since hitting them could cause significant damage to your car and passengers. However, if you swerve into oncoming traffic for the same reason, then you’re decidedly responsible for any ensuing accident. As a general rule of thumb, it’s okay to make an emergency stop for an animal. Provided you’re not endangering any other motorists to do so.
Call Us If You Have an Accident
If a situation arises where you’re not able to avoid a confrontation with wildlife, contact us right away. We can pull your individual policy and advise you of the liability in your particular situation. In some cases, it could result in a claim against your comprehensive coverage. When there’s a domesticated animal like a dog or cow or even a goat, the liability could potentially rest with the owner. After all, it’s their responsibility to keep their animals properly secured. Still, without knowing the details of your specific accident, it’s hard to come to that conclusion.
You may also need to call the police. According to the Road Traffic Act of 1988, you legally have to report hitting dogs, horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, donkeys, mules, and goats. That way, they can handle notifying the owner and proceeding from there. If the animal is injured, you have the option to call emergency animal services, but you’re not obligated to do so.
Careful driving is key when it comes to sharing the road safely with animals. Unfortunately, even this can’t prevent all run-ins with wildlife. So, if something happens, just know that you can always contact Freedom Insurance Agency. We can walk you through what comes next and help you address any questions that arise. Be extra diligent this fall and drive safely!