Cows, Courts, Confusion and the Safety of the Washington Motorist

William M. Treadwell, Cows, Courts, Confusion and the Safety of the Washington Motorist, 2 Gonz. L. Rev. 63 (1967)


A common highway danger in Washington is the sudden unexpected presence of livestock in the path of the approaching motorist.  1223 accidents of this type were reported in 1964, approximately one-half of the number that actually occurred according to statistics of the Washington State Patrol.

In the last decade highway accidents involving animals have nearly doubled, from 639 reported in the year 1954′ to the number cited above.  At that rate of geometric progression-and given increasing numbers of cattle, horses, other livestock and certainly automobiles, which all serve to compound the danger, there could be 5000 livestock-automobile collisions on Washington highways in 1984, and perhaps 16,000 at the turn of the century.

This forecast, of course, assumes that the numerical level of livestock and other animals that wander onto our highways will increase proportionately, and that advances in transportation technology will not substantially reduce the risk and probability of livestock-automobile collisions. One cannot forecast otherwise, since it is obvious that the social forces causing the increase of automobile collisions with livestock on the highways continue to mount rather than diminish.

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