Critters in the street. Hit it or Swerve?

rf1 rr1Last night I get one of those calls a parent hates to get “Dad, we were in an accident”.  Two blocks from home a 4 legged critter jumps across the path of the car my oldest was riding in.  The driver swerved to miss it.  She hit a parked car.  She is lucky the car was not moving nor occupied.  Both girls are fine.  Both given cars their age and damage are totals. 

My question to you LA is simple.  Do you hit the critter or do you swerve to avoid causing an accident with another vehicle?  From years in handling claims,  the position taken, and backed in the few that went to trial, is you hit the animal rather than causing another accident putting people at risk for injury.

A side bar to all of this is that while talking with the girls about what happened my daughter *swore* it was the wild coyotes running around in the area.  Sara, the driver swore it was two large dogs.  About half-way through the conversation with the police officers two huge raccoons climbed down the tree next to us and scampered off.  (Well one paused long enough to stand on its rear legs and raise its paws in a gesture not unlike giving a finger).  I now have to get a picture of a coyote for my daughter as she’ obviously doesn’t know what one looks like it it were to bite her.

Debate:  Hit or swerve.

pics by me and do get bigger with a click.

10 Replies to “Critters in the street. Hit it or Swerve?”

  1. Hard to tell. Depends on the situation. Big or small?

    I would most likely try to stop, I try to drive in a fashion that would allow for that.

    Should that not be an option, the idea of swerving away, which poses many uncontrolled possibilites, is counterintuitve for me.

  2. Hate to be a dick, but I don’t think those are the only options.

    I learned to drive in a rural town where raccoons, possums, deer, and other animals regularly darted across narrow, two lane roads. Mainly, drive at a reasonable speed and keep an eye out for your surrounding.

    Secondly, and more to your question, is to just stay on the damn road and don’t alter your path. If a critter is “darting” onto the road, it may just as quickly turn around and dart back. It may zig zag. The driver drastically changing course probably won’t help much. In fact, aiming for the critter may be the best course of action, because if it, in fact, is darting, it probably won’t be in the same spot by the time the car arrives.

  3. Maybe I should have added in that the impact tells me speed was under the posted 25. The street was narrow, and this is a newish driver – less than 2 years. And we all know CA Driver training programs are paid for and meet bare minimum.

    This was a situation where the critter just darted straight into their path at night.

    Keep the comments coming. Its always interesting.

  4. If it is a deer i swerve because with my luck I’d hit on a “prance” and it would go thru the windshield. A squirrel I close my eyes and hope I dont feel a bump. I never have, squirrels are REALLY fast! Dog or cat If I see them on the side of a the road in the distance I slow down to a crawl and wait till i pass them. And like everyone else I especially slow down when they are on the freeway. A momma duck and her ducklings? I give them the right of way. Same with livestock. Opossum? Well one attacked my cat once so screw em’ On the upside, if you do hit something perhaps you can make stew.

  5. It comes down to this……is it more important to save an animal (that in most cases, as noted above, will find its way out of danger) or risk damaging not only your vehicle (possibly totally) but also some other vehicle that wasn’t involved. And that’s best case scenario. People have killed themselves and others avoiding things as little as squirrels. I agree with lezgull to avoid large animals as much as possible because they can sometimes be more deadly than a car, but ultimately in my opinion (sorry PeTA) human life is more important than animal life in this situation.

  6. Big or small stay the course and hit it. Swerving causes roll overs and head ons which are usually worse than the damage caused by hitting the animal. Also, swerving does not guarantee that the animal won’t bolt in the direction you swerve causing you to be in the wrong lane AND still hitting it.

  7. I have had this happen to me when I was a teenager, a dog ran out and my reaction was to swerve and miss it but I ended up hitting another car (thank god it wasn’t a person). Legally, it was my fault, you are not suppose to swerve out of the way. Animals have no legal rights. Sad but true. It is hard when your dealing with your reactions but the best is to not drive fast and stay focused on the road.

  8. I agree that it is situational and you should only swerve if it’s a very large animal, if it’s safe to do so (no cars or people to hit). Having said that, my instinct would probably be to swerve just like I’ve slammed on my brakes when skidding on ice—the exact thing you’re not supposed to do. If going at a reasonable speed, it is sometimes possible to stop. We did that once when a small dog darted out into the street. His owner ran out and scooped him up. We were going pretty slow on a side street with no one behind us, so it was safe.

    When I was a young child, my sister and I were in a car with our mother. We were in pretty heavy traffic, but moving along, in one of the middle lanes. A medium to large sized dog ran out and she hit it. I was screaming and crying, but she told me she had to or otherwise she risked our and other people’s lives. I didn’t really understand at the time, but now know she did the right thing.

  9. reason tells you to brake as fast as safely possible, but if you have to, hit the animal

    instinct goes “AGH! THING! SWERVE!”

    in the past, i usually fall somewhere in between. It’s hard- accidents happen so fast, and esp driving in the city, it’s hard to tell sometimes if it’s a person or animal darting out into traffic (all you see is movement, and you react)

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