Particularly High Risks at Dawn and Dusk
Accidents involving wildlife can happen all year round and at any time of day, but now in the fall the risk increases – exacerbated by a high volume of commuter traffic around dawn and dusk with poor visibility. Stefanie Ritter from DEKRA Accident Research uses a simple example calculation to illustrate how real the risk is: “Many drivers don’t realize that a wild boar weighing 80 kilos will hit a car driving at 50 km/h with a force of two tonnes.”
So it is clear what is called for: Warnings of animal crossings must always be taken seriously. If there is an animal crossing sign on the side of the road, this means that the stretch of road is regarded as an accident blackspot and is not protected by wildlife fences. However, drivers should watch out for animal crossings on all roads that pass by wooded areas, hedges, bushes, or fields. “Here you need to be ready to react, reduce your speed, and keep a careful eye on the sides of the road. This has also been established by a number of court verdicts,” says the accident researcher. “In these areas, it is advisable to drive no faster than 70 to 80 km/h and avoid passing.”
If an animal appears, you should turn off your high beams, brake in a controlled manner, and sound your horn, while also paying attention to traffic behind you. Drivers should always watch out for stragglers or panicked animals that may suddenly leap out onto the road. For this reason, keep driving slowly and watch the side of the road even after the animal(s) have passed. If a collision cannot be avoided, the DEKRA expert recommends braking as hard as possible and keeping the vehicle in its lane. “Swerving out of the way is very risky. This can lead to more serious collisions than with a wild animal, as you can easily end up hitting oncoming traffic or a tree,” warns Ritter.