Not all animals on roads are as comfortable near vehicles as the one in the above photo!! A very real danger on the roads of South Africa is the presence of animals on the roads and the risk of them causing fatal crashes!
Unfortunately we find in many areas, especially our rural areas that fences have been removed and cattle find themselves grazing next to the roads. In many other areas especially in the Karoo we also find wildlife crossing the roads and antelope such as the kudu jumping fences to cross the road!
What can motorists do to protect themselves?
We would like to quote from the Arrive Alive road safety website:
Avoiding Animals On The Road: Tips for motorists
There is no foolproof way to keep animals away from the roads. Hoofed mammals that stand high on their legs, such as cattle, horses and antelope such as kudu pose the most danger to vehicle occupants. If they are hit they can roll onto the bonnet and into the windshield or roof, resulting in extensive damage and serious or fatal injury. Due to their height, their eyes are above most headlight beams.
There are a few suggestions that could assist in protecting motorists:
- Take special care near animal crossing warning signs or signs warning of the absence of fences. The signs are there for a reason.
- Minimize your distractions from passengers, food, and accessories like cell phones. If your full attention is on the road, you’ll be more likely to spot approaching animals with your peripheral vision.
- Get in the habit of scanning the roadside as you drive.
- Vigilance is the first and best defense, especially when driving on unfamiliar rural roads. Ask passengers to help by scanning both sides of the roadway.
- If you see one animal, expect that there are others nearby.
- Use your high beams whenever possible. They will give you more time to spot and react to animals in the road.
- Always obey the speed limit and wear safety belts
- To protect themselves, defensive drivers adapt their speed to conditions and keep alert for wildlife.
- Slowing down a little gives you and the animal more time to react – Be especially cautious at night
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Be especially watchful in areas near woods and water
- If you see a large animal near the road and think you have time to avoid hitting it, reduce your speed, tap your brakes to warn other drivers and sound your horn.
- If the animal is in your path, brake firmly but do not swerve to avoid it. Sound your horn in a series of short bursts to frighten it away. Provided you can slow down with control, steer around the animal but stay on the road if possible. Watch out for oncoming traffic.
- If a collision seems inevitable, don’t swerve to avoid the animal; your risk of injury may be greater if you do. Maintain control of the vehicle. Report the accident to the police and your insurance company.
- Always consider if the land along the road could host large animals, and if you think it could, anticipate that they might run out into the road. It’s much easier to anticipate animal encounters and be ready to react calmly than to deal with the costly expenses, injuries, and guilty conscience of a collision.