In 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded 12,000 injuries, and 173 auto accident fatalities following a collision with an animal. Each year there are over 1.5 million total accidents with deer, resulting in over one billion in automobile damage annually.

As responsible members of the State of Oklahoma, our committed Tulsa auto accident attorneys have gathered some useful information on how to avoid animals in the road. These techniques may save you from a trip to the hospital with severe injuries or repairing expensive damages to your vehicle. The following tips will help you avoid hitting an animal in the road:

Pay Attention to Warning Signs

Larger animals like deer and moose typically stick around waterways and forested areas. These areas are typically marked by signs. Unfortunately, many drivers fail to pay attention to these signs, thus resulting in thousands of accidents with these animals each year. It is highly advised to remain cautious in these areas and slow your speed.

Drive At Safe Speeds

It is advised to avoid speeding through areas where animals could be present, while driving more slowly will allow you to react to an animal. Several wildlife experts have recommended traveling at 55 miles per hour in wildlife areas in good conditions.

Practice Defensive Driving

Defensive driving simply means being prepared for any and all hazards which could occur. This means being able to slow down or break suddenly for animals. It is also advised that everyone traveling in the vehicle buckles their seatbelt as a safety precaution.

Be Observant of Surrounding Areas

Drivers are advised to actively pay attention to the sides of the roadway looking for signs of wildlife. This will greatly assist drivers in avoiding animals that may be traveling towards the roadway.

Pay Attention at Sunrise and Sunset

Most animals typically move during the hours of sunset to midnight, then again around dawn. At the same time, these hours are most difficult for our eye to adjust to the light because it is neither light nor dark at this time.

Nighttime Driving

While driving in wildlife zones at nighttime, it is advised to drive with your high beams on when possible. This will allow you to see an animals eyes and react to the sudden hazard.

Honking your Horn

When an animal is in front of your vehicle, it is advised to honk your horn in short bursts rather than holding the horn. This will be more likely to scare the deer away, rather than disorienting the animal by laying on the horn.

Listen to the Professionals

Mick Farmer, a British military veteran and certified police driving instructor recommends using the viewpoint of an animal. This means that drivers should steer in the direction where the animal is running from. This works because an animal will not generally travel backwards, unlike humans, which will retreat when they sense danger, animals typically react by continuing on the path they first set out on.

While it may not be possible to avoid all accidents with animals on our roadways, maintaining attention while driving and practicing defensive driving habits can assist in reducing as much as 50 percent of accidents with our wildlife.