We have covered many car accidents in previous posts which involve drivers who swerve or overcorrect their vehicles. Swerving often creates a great likelihood that a car will leave the road and flip, which is why it should be avoided if all possible. Many people are likely to swerve in order to avoid hitting an animal, but some traffic safety experts say that it is usually safer to hit an animal on the road than swerving.
"These crashes happen so fast, often times drivers don't have the option of making a decision about what to do," a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said. He added that in most cases the safest option is to hit the animal instead of risking losing control of your vehicle.
The NHTSA says that 173 fatal car accidents involved animals in 2009, which is the most recent year that statistics are available for. That year also saw 12,000 crashes involving animals which resulted in non-fatal personal injuries. Most of the personal injuries arising out of these accidents did not happen because of an impact with an animal but rather the accident which followed.
About 77 percent of the accidents involved deer, 10 percent of the accidents involved cattle, horses and dogs each caused 6 percent of the accidents.
State Farm Insurance says that there were over 1 million crashes involving deer and cars between the July 1, 2010 and June 20, 2011. The average cost of these accidents is $3,171 but accidents in which the driver loses control of his or her vehicle result in costs which are significantly higher. The top months for these accidents are in fall and winter.
Source: The Associated Press, "Swerving can be worse than hitting animal on road," Jan. 11, 2012