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With shorter daylight hours, wildlife collision risk increases

With the end of daylight savings time come shorter days and more wildlife activity. As more drivers find themselves out between dusk and dawn, the period when wildlife is most active, they increase their risk of colliding with the animals. Autumn is an especially busy time for deer and bears. This is why experts recommend that drivers in and around New Jersey take several precautions to avoid such accidents. This advice is good year-round.

First of all, drivers should maintain moderate speeds in wildlife-heavy zones. Transportation authorities post signs warning drivers about such areas as moderate speeds give drivers more time to react. When wildlife does cross the road, drivers should slow down or stop and flash their headlights. Wild animals usually don't travel alone, so one should honk the horn to dissuade any others from crossing. Also, people should look out for movement and shining eyes on the roadside.

Lastly, drivers should wear their seat belts. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration states that seat belts reduce the risk of serious injuries and death by 50 percent.

Annual wildlife collisions number in the thousands in some states. For instance, the Colorado Department of Transportation handles an average of 3,300 reports of wildlife crashes, with the highest numbers occurring in November. Property damage resulting from such incidents can cost drivers about $3,400 on average.

If someone is injured by another driver's negligence after wildlife got in the way, he or she may be able to file an injury claim. A lawyer can have investigators reconstruct the car accident and determine if the victim was partly to blame. Afterwards, the lawyer can estimate a settlement, which could cover medical expenses, pain and suffering, vehicle damage and any lost wages. The lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company and take the case to court if the company denies payment.

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