Mary Chapin Carpenter sings that “Sometimes you’re the windshield / Sometimes you’re the bug.” While millions of bugs fall victim to car windshields every summer, insects have a way of getting their revenge. A single wayward bug loose in a car can cause a serious transportation accident. It’s impossible to know just how often this occurs. On the top 10 list of driving distractions, a “moving object in the vehicle” (which is defined as a pet or an insect) logs in as #9, accounting for 1% of all accidents. One percent doesn’t sound like very much, but when you consider there are more than 5 million car crashes in the U.S. each year, one percent totals 50,000 accidents. That’s a heck of a lot of accidents due to cats, dogs, bees and spiders.
We can and certainly should take steps to secure our pets in our vehicles – but it’s a little harder to keep winged or crawling creatures out. And if a stinging insect begins flying around the car or a scary looking spider is running around the dashboard, it can take nerves of steel to avoid distraction. Some people have an almost reflexive avoidance reaction that could put themselves or other drivers in jeopardy.
When driving, it’s essential that you steel yourself to focus on the road and the wheel, no matter what the distraction that might be going on in the car. Job number one is to keep control of the vehicle and bring it to a safe stop in a place that you can give attention to the crisis. Easier said than done if you are an arachnophobic or bee-phobic, we know!
Sometimes nature can deliver bigger surprises than just a wasp or a spider. Check out
this woman who had a snake crawling around in her car last month.
Or this thee short clips show other distractions – could you keep your cools with these creatures in the car?
Sometimes insects can be a hazard even when they are not inside the car. Check out this recent infestation of mayflies that made driving just about impossible in Havna, Ilinois.
Here are some tips to prevent getting creatures in your car, and some tips for what to do should they surprise you while you are driving:
- Keep car windows closed at night.
- Don’t store food that might be attractive to rodents in your car or near your car.
- If you fear that a cat, rodent, or snake might be attracted to the warmth of your engine, bang on the hood a few times before you enter and start the car.
- Make sure any pets are secured in escape proof enclosures or secured in a seat.
- Keep car windows closed while driving.
Dealing with a creature crisis while driving
- If there is an insect or critter in your car, it is essential to keep your eyes on the road not on the critter. Grit your teeth, scream if you have to, but keep your hands firmly on the wheel
- If it is a flying insect, open the windows to give it an exit path
- Carefully pull over to the side of the road as soon as it is safe to do so. Use care exiting the car if you are on a highway or traffic route.
- If it is a bee or an insect, you should be able to focus on extricating it while parked.
- If the pest is something more exotic like snake or a rodent, you may need to call a local wildlife specialist to safely remove it.