AAA has projected the number of Americans traveling on vacation this Memorial Day holiday weekend will increase 5.4 percent from 2009 with approximately 32.1 million travelers taking a trip away from home. Trips by auto are expected to increase in popularity with 87 percent or 28.0 million people reaching their destination by driving.
You’re probably expecting me to chime in with statistics about the amount of fossil fuel that will be burned, or how to make your trip more sustainable by packing water in reusable containers and buying snacks at local farmer’s markets along the way.
Instead, I’m going to talk about wildlife.
According to the Humane Society, people kill more wildlife with their cars than in any other way. However, they offer a lot of sensible tips to keep animals– and ourselves– safe during the upcoming road trip season:
Be especially watchful for wildlife at dawn, dusk, and in the first few hours after darkness falls. Many species of wildlife are most active at these times.
Edges of roads that border agricultural fields or natural habitats are places to be particularly watchful for wildlife.
Assume that animals do not know to get out of your way. Young animals, in particular, do not recognize cars as a threat.
Lower your dashboard lights slightly. You’ll be more likely to see your headlights reflected in the eyes of animals in time to brake.
Every apple core, french fry, and smelly sandwich wrapper tossed out of a car attracts wildlife to roadsides—often with fatal results. Never throw litter from your car.
Remember that where there is one animal crossing, there may be more, young animals following their mother or male animals pursuing a mate.
Try to slow down, especially after dark. Many animals needlessly become victims simply because people drive too fast to avoid hitting them. Speed poses a risk to human safety as well.
Enjoy the upcoming holiday weekend. Pack some water in a reusable container. Stop for snacks (or lunch) at a local farmer’s market. And above all, drive safely!