Every year, millions of wildlife-related car accidents occur across the U.S., but rarely are such scary run-ins caught on film. Last Friday night, Tennessee police Deputy Jason Harvey was driving down a dark, country highway when, seemingly out of nowhere, a juvenile brown bear ran into the road ahead of his patrol car. Unfortunately, Harvey was unable to stop before bumping into the animal -- which then ran back into the woods, dazed, but not visibly injured. The footage serves as a chilling reminder of the dangers animals and humans face on rural roads when the outcome of collisions like this are so often deadly for both.
The dashboard camera footage demonstrates just how quickly a hypnotizing nighttime drive can turn tragic for both humans and wildlife -- reinforcing the need for drivers to be vigilant and mindful of animal that could be crossing the road ahead of them. Being cautious in areas designated as wildlife crossing zones and keeping alert at all times may just save yours and an animal's life.
In the footage above, it would seem that the young bear was able to survive without serious injury (we hope) -- thanks in part, perhaps, to the fact that the patrol car is equipped with a broad push-bumper, and that the bear appears to have taken the hit on its meaty rump. Deputy Harvey looked for the bear after it ran off, but was apparently unable to track it down.
Unfortunately, the fact that human and animal survived this accident isn't always the likely outcome.
Earlier this month, two motorists were killed when the car in front of them hit a bear and sent it flying through the windshield of their SUV. Police investigating the accident described bear-related vehicle collisions as a threat most drivers aren't suspecting.
"Obviously, it's something really rare," a police spokesperson told CBC News. "We don't see that often, even if we live in the country. Lots of deer, but collisions with a bear and two people died? That's really rare."
As rural roads continue to be built in areas dense with wildlife, accidents like this may occur even more frequently. Sadly for the animals whose habitats are impacted by drivers, the introduction of highways and streets don't come with a warning sign.