Across the nation, most car accidents are caused by typical disturbances like congested roads, distracted drivers, and drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Every area has its fair share of unusual circumstances that can result in accidents, however. In Florida, home to the Everglades and other swamplands, unwanted visitors on the road can be deadly. It is no secret that Florida is home to thousands of car crashes and resulting injuries every year, as one of our cities is rated the fourth most dangerous city in which to drive in the U.S. But how many accidents result from collisions with wildlife rather than other vehicles?
Wildlife Collisions Injure Both Animals and Drivers
Just outside of Naples, Florida on September 9, Robert Nash was driving his Saturn down CR-82 when he collided with an alligator. His car spun out, struck a forest of mangroves, and landed partially submerged in a canal. Nash was killed in the accident. Sadly, such events are not uncommon. A Florida couple collided with an alligator in St. Petersburg in 2012. The alligator died, though fortunately the couple was not injured. In 2014, a five-car-pileup occurred after one vehicle struck a black bear in Hendry County, Florida. Three men along with the bear lost their lives in that accident, and eight more were seriously injured. In the past decade, two other men have been killed in bear collisions, both of which were motorcyclists heading through Ocala National Forest. Ninety percent of bear deaths in Florida are caused by vehicle crashes, indicating that such collisions are more common than it may seem. Collisions with deer are another dangerous reality that can cause injury and property damage. According to State Farm, over 1.23 million accidents occurred from collisions with deer between 2011 and 2012. While not widely reported, statistics also show that 50 percent of all endangered Florida panther deaths are caused by collisions with vehicles.
Safety Precautions for Florida Drivers
According to the Defenders of Wildlife, there are anywhere between 725,000 to 1.5 million wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVCs) in the United States every year, costing over 200 lives. One source estimates that one out of every 17 car collisions involves wandering wildlife. Fatality rates from WVCs have risen 67 percent from 1994 to 2006. Drivers must use caution to protect both themselves and the lives of wildlife, especially in heavily wooded or swampy areas like Florida.
- Be alert and pay attention to slower speed limits or warning signs indicating heavy wildlife areas. Yellow animal crossing signs are posted in heavy animal traffic areas to alert motorists to use extra precautions.
- Drive slower around dawn and dusk, common times for animals to be out and about.
- Take extra care in heavily wooded areas with low lighting or visibility.
- Pay attention to shoulders on the road. Even if animals appear to be off to the side, they often suddenly jump into the road after being startled, so slower speeds can help you avoid an accident.
- Many animals, such as deer, wander in groups. If you see one, reduce your speed, as it is likely that more are on their way.
- If a collision with an animal is imminent, hit the brakes and honk the horn instead of swerving. Swerving may cause collisions with other cars or objects on the road, and may be more dangerous than colliding with a smaller animal.
Do You Need Legal Help After an Auto Accident?
If you or a loved one is dealing with the aftermath of an auto accident in Central Florida, let experienced lawyer, John Piccin at Piccin & Glynn help. John has handled hundreds of auto accident cases and is prepared to answer your questions, negotiate with insurance companies, and even make home or hospital visits to ensure you get the support you need. Call John at 352-581-6174 for a free consultation to discuss your case today.