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Hogs gone wild: cars hitting animals on fastest highway in Texas

When the Texas Transportation Commission agreed to increase the posted speed limit on Interstate 130, some Texans worried about public safety. Their fears may be real, at least for drivers travelling on the 41-mile interstate during the night.

Cars driving on the recently faster road have been involved in dangerous collisions with animals on the road. Two of the car accidents involved vehicles hitting hogs and another driver reported hitting a deer. The drivers did not report any injuries but future drivers in collisions with these types of animals may not be so lucky.

The report of hogs being involved in recent car collisions does not surprise local residents. Texas has the biggest feral hog population in the country, with 2.6 million hogs in the state.

The large hog population in Texas paired with having the fastest interstate in the U.S. may be a dangerous mix for drivers travelling along Texas 130. Hogs can be very large and weigh several hundred pounds, making a collision with a hog even more hazardous. Vehicle-hog collisions usually average $1,200 in damage per collision, according to the state agriculture department.

While the hog population is the highest in Texas, deer also pose serious risks for drivers in Texas. Deer and hogs can both significantly damage vehicles and cause injuries for individuals in the vehicle. Drivers are advised to slow down and try to come to a safe stop when they see animals on the roads. Recent studies have shown that swerving to miss hitting an animal on the road actually increases the risk of being an accident. Drivers who swerve to avoid an animal may end up colliding with other vehicles on the road instead of the animal.

The speed limit change and animal activity has increased the public's attention to Interstate 130, leading officials to monitor the road with security cameras. Lights have already been placed on the entrance and exit ramps to increase visibility. Officials have said that they will continue to monitor the road to see where animal crossings occur more frequently and safety precautions will then be taken.

Animal-car collisions have always been a risk for Texas drivers but should the public be concerned over the increased dangers of hitting an animal at 85 miles per hour? Unfortunately, only time will tell.

Source: San Antonio Express-News, "On Texas 130, road hogs are the feral kind," Vianna Davilla, Oct. 26, 2012

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