BOISE – As temperatures drop and with the arrival of rutting season, AAA reminds drivers to watch for wildlife on or near the roads.

According to the Idaho Transportation Department, “Animal in the Roadway” was the second highest contributing factor for single-vehicle crashes last year at 18%, just behind speeding at 22%.  Further, while 64% of all motor vehicle crashes occurred on urban roadways, 75% of fatal motor vehicle crashes occurred on rural roadways in 2022.

“In an urban environment, visibility may be better, traffic patterns are fairly predictable, and most of the sources of a major collision are readily identifiable.  Now try driving through a rural area where some of the major obstacles are camouflaged and may appear in the road at any time from any direction,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde.  “Idaho is a beautiful state filled with natural wonder, and we need as much of a safety mindset when we’re out in remote areas as we do on a crowded freeway or at a busy intersection.”

Here are some wildlife tips from AAA:

  • Actively scan the road for animals, especially at dawn and dusk.
  • If you see an animal, slow down – many travel in groups of two or three, including deer.
  • Keep your headlights clean, and use high beams when there’s no oncoming traffic.
  • If an animal is in the road, focus on slowing down over swerving.  Swerving could result in a roll-over crash, or you could end up in oncoming traffic.
  • Always wear your seat belt.  A collision with a large animal can be just as severe as hitting another car.