by Sharlyn Petit
In the Northwest, we’re conditioned to stay alert at each deer-crossing sign we see. Our friends or relatives likely have a close-call collision story or two to tell.
But what happens during an 80-mph run-in with a 200-pound black bear?
Last week, one 16-year old found out on an early morning trip to Montana from southeast Idaho. Her attention was on her father sitting in the passenger seat when she looked up to see a bear bolting onto Interstate 15. Without time to stop or avoid the bear, she struck it, sending it over the windshield and roof of her Chevy Malibu.
The driver and her father were fortunate to walk away uninjured, but the bear sustained serious injuries including a shattered shoulder and was put down by a state trooper.
Following the crash, troopers gave the bear to the teen’s father who planned to take it to a taxidermist. The driver, however, intends to talk her dad out of that plan.
Stories like these remind us that it’s not just other drivers you need to look out for. Large animals like bears and deer are active around dawn and sunset, so cut your speed in rural areas, use your high beam headlights when safe to increase visibility, and don’t swerve – at high speeds, you’re much more likely to risk injury or death if you swerve to avoid a large animal, rather than hit it.
Read more safety tips on our Avoiding Deer-Vehicle Collisions tip sheet, or read the full news story from the Idaho State Journal.