When you are driving in your car to work every day, there are a lot of basic skills you draw on to get to your destination. You should make sure you go to the speed limit. Stopping at red lights and staying off your cell phone are two more ways to prevent unnecessary collisions. But sometimes, there are difficult events to avoid. 

If you have ever hit a deer, you know this is one of the most shocking things that can happen on the road. The damage to your car can be devastating, and seeing the potentially dead animal on the highway is also upsetting. 

Deer are not the only animal you can hit on the road. We'll talk about some of the other most commonly hit animals and how to handle the consequences of hitting these animals. Also, how can you try to be more careful about hitting animals while driving? 

#1 - Deer

Deer are definitely one of the most commonly hit animals on the road. This could be because so many deer live close to highways and often roam outside their immediate area after the sun starts going down. 

Many people find themselves hitting deer around this time of the day, so make sure you are extra careful and attentive if you are driving after or when it's about to be dark. Stay alert by leaving your phone in your pocket, making sure your headlights are on, and trying to be rested before you get behind the wheel. 

If you are traveling by yourself, it's crucial to be aware of your surroundings. Passengers can sometimes catch things about to happen on the road if they are paying attention, but this doesn't mean you should rely on them. Passengers need to make sure they avoid causing distractions to the driver, as well.

Kids can often be loud in the backseat of the car. Don't let their noise cause you to hit a deer. Taking your attention off the road to break up their fight isn't worth the damage hitting one of these animals may cause to you and your vehicle. Deer can jump in front of a car quickly, and losing reaction time can potentially cause an accident. 

One last thing you should always verify is whether you live next to an area with a large deer population. Living in forested areas and closer to nature will increase your risk of hitting a deer. Living in the heart of a city will decrease your chances of hitting a deer. There are still other animals to worry about when you live downtown, though. 

#2 - Cats

Some estimates claim over 5 million cats are fatally hit by cars on U.S. roads every year. This type of animal will not really do much damage to your vehicle, but it will definitely cause emotional damage to the driver. Cats are one of humans' most trusted companion animals. Running a cat over can be very upsetting to most drivers. 

If you have a cat that survives a hit by a car, you should bring it to the vet. A trusted and affordable veterinarian can possibly save the cat's life. There are also ways to ensure you don't hit a cat. Make sure you check the wheels of the car before you get in and drive. Cats often like to rest on the top of the wheels, and you need to be aware of it. 

Some people don't notice when they have run over a cat because it's a small animal. If you do, you should consider telling the police so they can find the owner and inform them of the death. 

#3 - Racoons

Raccoons are another one of the most commonly hit animals on the road. These animals love to explore different places and find unfamiliar territory to call their own. Humans are constantly in areas where raccoons are because they are not afraid to leave the wild and enter civilized regions. This leads to millions of raccoon deaths by cars per year. 

You probably don't need to worry about owning a raccoon and having it hit because these animals don't make good pets. You also don't need to worry about hitting someone else's raccoon for this same reason. Still, all animal life is valuable, and you should do your best to avoid hitting raccoons. If you do hit a raccoon, it's not likely it will do much damage to your vehicle. 

#4 - Squirrels

Squirrels are one of the smallest animals that get into human territory; therefore, they are one of the most commonly hit animals. They're so tiny you will likely think you're just hitting a small bump in the road if you run one over. It's hard to say how many squirrels are hit per year, but many reports say that it's upward of 40 million. 

Call your local authorities to get a cleanup crew if you often see dead squirrels in your area. 

Insurance and Hitting Animals

You need to make sure you have comprehensive insurance coverage as part of a car insurance policy to get repairs on a vehicle damaged in an animal collision. If you only have liability coverage, this will not typically cover damage caused by an animal of any kind. 

Accidentally Harming an Animal Behind the Wheel

Hitting animals on the road is nothing new. It has become a much larger problem in recent decades because of the higher speeds of modern vehicles. Animals didn't have to worry about dying on the roads nearly as often in the past. This should make humans think about how they can try to stop intruding on other life.

Be careful when you are driving in areas with lots of nature. If you go off-roading, camping, or mountain driving, these areas are where you might be driving through animal habitats. Think twice before you go through these locations, and be wary of animals. 

If you hit a larger animal while driving, make sure you and everyone else in the car are safe by calling the police. Report the accident to your insurance company. Animals running on roads is a byproduct of driving, but hitting animals can be avoided. 

(Photo : Shawn Laib)

Shawn Laib writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, BuyAutoInsurance.com. He wants to educate people about animals and driving around them on the road.