Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Animals on the Road

We do quite a bit of countryside walking these days & see more & more animals, especially deer & "sangliers" (wild boars).

We often see them dashing across fields, then dashing straight across roads...

There have been several news items on TV about the increase in sangliers all over Europe, notably Berlin & the local paper today says there are 5 times as many in Alsace as a few years ago.

So the risk of meeting an animal when you are driving is quite high & rising.

Another good reason to keep your speed down & your eyes open, in general.

I think it is worth preparing yourself beforehand so you can (maybe) react as well as possible when it happens.

The most important thing is DON'T SWERVE!
If you swerve, you are likely to:
- hit something coming the other way.
- push an overtaking car or motorcycle off the road.
- lose control of your car.
- turn over.
- run into a ditch.
- hit a tree.
All those are probably much worse than hitting an animal.

The next most important thing is to BRAKE AS SOON & AS HARD AS POSSIBLE.
The sooner & harder you brake, the better your chances are of not hitting something.
If you still hit something, you will be going as slow as was ever going to be possible, which is the best you can do for yourself & for the animal.
If you have not practiced braking hard, you almost certainly won't, so practice a couple of times somewhere safe, just to see.
If you don't hear & feel the ABS rattling YOU ARE NOT BRAKING HARD ENOUGH.
- that does not apply to old cars without ABS, like my 2CV.
- of course, you know if your car has ABS or not?

You probably won't have time for more than that.

If you do have time & are SURE there is no other traffic, then look at a bit of road with no animal on it & steer GENTLY at it if it is not going to head you off the road.
Murphy's law says the animal will probably move there anyway...
Concentrate on pointing in a safe direction rather than on avoiding the animal.

If you are going to hit an animal with long legs (deer...) it will probably come over the bonnet & through the windscreen.
This is definitely not a good thing.
If you see that coming.
Try to keep braking too!


Obviously you won't have time to remember this article while that is happening.

I think you CAN run through it in your head often enough (whenever you are on a boring straight bit of road) and imagine yourself doing it often enough, so that when it happens you have a better chance of doing the right thing & not panicking.

Worth a try!

Parting thot: "The harder you work - the luckier you get." - Sam Goldwyn

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