Last week while driving into town, we passed a black bear that had been hit by a car and killed. When I read the article in the newspaper about the bear, I noticed that several readers responded by criticizing the driver claiming bears don’t dart across the street. Some even demanded the driver by held accountable for killing the bear.
Bears do dart! I’ve witnessed a bear dart across S.R. 40. Fortunately, it crossed about a half mile ahead of our car so it made it safely to the other side of the road. My brother also experienced a darting bear that managed to safely cross between two cars.
These bears weigh 300 pounds or more. Not only did the bear die, but the woman who hit the bear was hospitalized and her car was totaled. You’d have to be crazy to purposely hit a bear.
While the bear caught my attention this week, bears aren’t the only animals that are killed by cars or put drivers in danger. Opossums, squirrels, deer, and many other animals cause driving hazards.
No one wants to hit an animal while driving, but it’s going to happen. I’ve hit squirrels and a rabbit and the heron I hit crossing Alligator Alley made a real mess on my car, but remember what Coach M. said in Driver’s Ed, the most dangerous things on the road are the other cars. Hitting a rabbit is preferable to swerving and hitting another car.
This is even true when that animal is someone’s pet. I remember one of the pieces of advice from my Dad when I first started driving was to never swerve to avoid an animal. He said saving the life of a dog or cat was not worth risking serious injury or death to yourself or another person.
If you hit a dog or cat, stop to check on it when you can pull over safely, but make people your priority.
Of course, you’ll want to do all you can to avoid a bear or alligator or horse, but even hitting large animal is better than hitting another car, a tree, or a building.
I hope you never find yourself forced to hit an animal, but if you do, please take care of yourself and your passengers and don’t swerve.