Drive safely, avoid mishaps with wildlife

Vehicle accidents involving wildlife are common. These types of mishaps can result in serious injuries and death to both human and animals and thousands of dollars in vehicle property damage each year.

In the last 10 years, Air Force members had 50 major vehicle mishaps involving wildlife that resulted in injuries; one of these mishaps was fatal.

Interestingly, in 33 out of these 50 mishaps (66 percent), the injuries were not caused by striking a deer, moose or elk; they were caused because the motorist swerved to avoid the animal, lost control and slammed into landscape or terrain, which caused the injury or property damage.

In the last two months in the KMC, there have been five minor vehicle mishaps involving wildlife. Fortunately, there were no injuries. Two animal strikes happened within 1.5 miles of each other on the road between Reichenbach-Steegen and the Ramstein East Gate.

Now, with spring on the rise, the number of accidents involving wildlife will likely increase. The following countermeasures can be used to reduce vehicle-wildlife accidents:

• Drivers and passengers should actively watch for wildlife on the road, in ditches, on the shoulders and in the right of way.

• Maintain the posted speed. If an animal does jump out in front of you, the safest thing to do is to drive straight ahead, brake and hope the animal gets out of the road. This will slow your speed and help reduce the impact of the accident. Avoiding a hard turn maneuver will keep your car from crossing into oncoming traffic or exiting the road surface.

• Look for deer-crossing warning signs and be mindful of roadside landscape and vegetation that are common feeding areas for wildlife populations.

• Be mentally prepared and aware of deer and wildlife behavior if one suddenly darts out in front of you or runs toward your vehicle.

These are just a few hints for the roadway to help prevent and reduce the risk of vehicle-wildlife accidents.

(Courtesy of 86th Airlift Wing Ground Safety)