Hitting an alligator – sounds silly, right? Well, it could happen. With approximately 1.4 million alligators living in all 67 counties of Florida, it’s highly likely you’ll have an encounter with one of these prehistoric pedestrians sooner than you think.
With Florida accounting for 20% of the wetlands in the lower 48 states, it should come as no surprise that gators also come with the territory. You don’t have to be driving to encounter a gator in or around your vehicle. Hopefully you don’t find one under your car or in your truck bed, but it’s been known to happen.
So our first tip is to take a quick glance under your vehicle before you approach it, especially if you happen to live near an alligator habitat. If you see something suspicious, back away, and get a better look. If you do see an alligator, call a professional to have it removed – don’t just stick your hand under there to investigate!
Once you’re on the road, keep a look out for potential alligator pedestrians. If you see one on the side of the road, proceed with caution and use safe driving skills to ensure you pass it safely without incident. Gators can bolt up to 11 mph in short bursts, so you might see one dart in front of your car.
Who has the right of way when a gator gets ready to cross? For your own safety, yield to the animal. A large gator could do severe damage to your vehicle. Don’t believe me? Check out this video of an alligator attacking a police car!
If you happen to hit one, pull over immediately – but do NOT get out of your car. There’s a good chance the gator could be hitching a ride underneath, or it might be hiding, hurt and angry, nearby. An encounter with an injured gator could still be a deadly one.
Stay calm and call the authorities. Wait patiently and safely in your car for help to arrive. It could also be a good idea to call your insurance company while you wait for help to arrive. You’ll need to report the damage to ensure your repairs are covered. It’s also worth noting that unless you have collision and/or comprehensive auto insurance coverage, you might be running the risk of being left without any protection for your vehicle if you do hit a gator.
A good rule of thumb to keep in mind in all situations involving an alligator is to keep a safe distance. If you see an injured gator, possibly on the side of the road, do not approach it. It might look harmless, but leave that to the professionals to decide. The last thing you want to do is try to touch or move an alligator and risk injury–or worse!