We have discussed many Florida car accidents involving animals in previous posts, including the recent accident in which a Dade City woman was killed after swerving to avoid a dog. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that 173 people died in 2009 due to animal-related accidents and that another 12,000 crashes caused personal injuries that year, which is the most recent year that data are available.
It is important to note that crashes involving animals are typically fatal not because the car hit the animal, but because a driver lost control of his or her car while attempting to avoid hitting the animal. That is why it is generally better to hit an animal rather than swerve to avoid it.
"These crashes happen so fast, often times drivers don't have the option of making a decision about what to do," said a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, "but the best thing, unfortunately, in most cases is to hit the animal and try to avoid swerving or doing something that could cause you to lose control and hit somebody else or an object or go off the road and roll over."
Most fatalities in these crashes could also be prevented by wearing helmets or seatbelts, the spokesman said. Fortunately for Miami residents, deer account for the vast majority of crashes involving animals. While it is unlikely that a South Floridian is going to hit a deer, the recent crash involving the Dade City woman who swerved for a dog should serve as a precautionary tale for any driver in the state.
Source: The Associated Press, "Swerving can be worse than hitting animal on road," Jan. 11, 2012