The sad fact is that many of us probably catch our most frequent glimpses of wildlife as we pass their mangled corpses along the roadside while we drive by. It might even be something we’ve become numb to after the first several instances.
Worldwide, an estimated several million animals are killed by vehicles each year, a catastrophe that is compounded by the corresponding human injury and vehicle damage. This problem has sickened me ever since I first witnessed it as a kid, but things definitely seem to have gotten much worse over the span of my lifetime.
After hitting a fox a few years ago on a dark country road, I began looking for ways to increase my wildlife awareness while driving, and to help others do the same. Here are three simple habits I’ve been working on in hopes of avoiding another animal accident:
Driving slower allows more time to see animals along the road and to react if they try to cross.
Avoid driving tired. No texting or distracted driving. Use high beams whenever possible for a better view of the road and surroundings.
Scan The Roadside
Rather than focusing narrowly on the road directly ahead, use a sweeping gaze to scan back and forth from one side of the road to the other while maintaining focus on the road itself. This sounds more complicated than it really is. Give it a try!
I designed a bumper sticker on the subject and had them printed. I hand them out to anyone who’s interested in hopes of raising awareness and reducing animal deaths on the road. If you’re interested in having one, I would be glad to mail it to you at no cost, just email me with your street address at firstname.lastname@example.org (I won’t keep your info or use it for other purposes).
This is the time of year in my region where animals become much more active than usual, making quick and ill-advised dashes across the road (I’ve been told this has to do with mating hormones). Let’s do our best to be aware of our fellow creatures and coexist peacefully, without incident.
Follow Todd and the staff at Wise & Shine for more stories on a variety of topics. You can also read Todd’s personal blog at www.fiveoclockshadow.life, or follow his activities as a musician at www.toddfulginiti.com. His new album Jazz On King Vol. 1 can be heard here.