If you are a regular reader of USA Today, you may have come across this article in Wednesday’s edition about what to do if an animal suddenly appears in front of you on the roadway. The story strongly discourages swerving automatically, noting that such a maneuver itself can cause an auto accident. It suggests that it is okay to take evasive action only it is safe to do so; otherwise, you should simply continue on your present course (especially if the animal is shorter than the top of your vehicle’s hood). According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at least one injury accident involving an animal occurred every hour in 2009 in the United States.One of these types of crashes took place Tuesday morning in a recent accident on I-57 a few miles south of Salem. According to Illinois State Police, a car was traveling south on the interstate about 12:45am when an “unknown animal” darted in front of the vehicle. The 19-year old female driver swerved and lost control of the car, which flipped several times after running up the embankment on the overpass to Nation Road (about a mile northeast of Lake Centralia).A 21-year old male passenger and a 20-year old female passenger sustained injuries in the rollover accident on I-57 as did the driver. All three were transported to Salem Township Hospital.Though we don’t know for sure, it’s quite possible that had the driver simply hit the animal, the crash would not have occurred and none of the three occupants would have been hurt. Instead, the woman driving the vehicle could be named as a defendant in any subsequent personal injury lawsuit filed by the other two people in the car. If this happens, the driver might be ordered to reimburse the passengers for their medical expenses or compensate them for any time they may miss at work due to their injuries.No one wants to run over a defenseless animal. But in many cases, it’s much safer to do so than to swerve to avoid it and risk a more serious auto accident.