Washington has an incredible diversity of wildlife, ranging from large predators to beautiful birds. People actually come to visit the state specifically because they want to visit natural spaces and see the wildlife. Many locals will occasionally encounter wildlife in unexpected ways.
Animals absolutely enrich the life of residents in addition to attracting tourists to the state. Unfortunately, they also create a significant amount of risk for drivers. Traffic collisions are a leading cause of wildlife deaths, and crashes with animals sometimes prove fatal for people in motor vehicles.
An animal can wander into traffic at any time of day or year, but there are two seasons annually when wildlife risks are higher than usual.
1. During the spring
For a lot of mammals, in particular, the late winter and spring are when adults find mates or have their young. Even for those not frantically looking for a partner, the spring is when they will try to make up for any nutritional shortages during the winter. Many animals would be on the move after having been relatively lazy during the colder winter months.
2. In the autumn
The natural scenery in autumn draws a lot of people to the forests around Washington state, but those going out to look at the colors are likely at elevated risk of a crash. While Washington doesn’t see the harsh winters often experienced in other states, quite a few animals prepare for the winter and will be far more active in the late summer and fall as compared to the midsummer or winter months.
Knowing when to watch out for animals is quite important for driver safety, and people also need to know how to respond to animals appropriately. Someone who swerves dramatically into oncoming traffic to avoid a raccoon in the road would end up at fault for the crash that occurred even though they clearly wanted to avoid the animal.
Drivers should adjust their habits at the wheel to reflect seasonal risks, like increased animal activity, and they should know when to swerve, when to brake and when to brace for impact if there is an animal in the road. Being pragmatic about common crash risks can help protect those who don’t want to get hurt in a motor vehicle wreck.