The driver of a Honda Civic came across something startling on I-5 near Woodland, Washington this morning, that something being a 100-pound cougar. The female cougar was making its way across three southbound lanes of the interstate when she was hit by the two-door Civic, leaving her critically injured. The driver was not hurt.
Once the cougar was taken from the roadway, troopers contacted the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Because of the animal’s severe injuries, it was determined that she was suffering enough for them to make the decision that she should be put down.
Despite the unfortunate consequences of this particular accident, it appears that the driver did the right thing. Washington State trooper Julie Startup reports that if you do not have enough time to observe and check traffic around you before moving, it is best to avoid swerving and/or braking if you come across an animal, and instead hit them. Sudden swerving and lane switches can cause you to hit another car or object, which can result in an even bigger accident and, oftentimes, a rollover.
It was reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that, in 2009, there were 173 fatal crashes involving animals and an additional 12,000 injury crashes involving animals.