Brake it down

There is currently a Nationwide commercial about drivers making good decisions. (

If you Google “nationwide commercial braking for squirrels” you’ll see that I’m not the only person who doesn’t like this part of the ad.

Some people claim it’s illegal to brake for animals. (It’s not.) Some people claim it’s better to swerve to avoid an animal. (It’s not necessarily.)

I’m an auto claims adjuster. I’ve handled hundreds and hundreds — maybe thousands, I’m really not sure — of claims involving animal hits. Mostly deer, but a few dozen types of animals, including bear, moose, pheasants… lots of stuff. I’ve also handled hundreds of claims in which people swerved to avoid the animals, lost control, went off the road, and struck other objects, or people, or rolled their own cars.

Now I love squirrels. I really do. I love squirrels! I love watching them, and I’d hate to run one over. But as an auto adjuster and as a driver who might be behind you, HIT THE DAMN SQUIRREL. Flatten it. Ride your big old SUV over it until it looks like a teeny rug for a swanky dollhouse. If you want to pull over afterwards, wait for traffic to clear, and scrape it up so you can slip it into an envelope and mail it to squirrel heaven, be my guest. BUT HIT THE SQUIRREL.

If you’re in front of me and brake for a squirrel, I’m a good enough driver that I probably won’t rear-end you. Probably. But it’s also not unlikely that the person behind me will rear-end me, possibly pushing me into you. If this happens, so help me, I will get out of the car, chase down the squirrel, and fling it directly under the next large vehicle that drives by just to spite you. And I may bury some nuts on its behalf.


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One Response to Brake it down

  1. JayD says:

    I agree. Nationwide are idiots for promoting that seriously dangerous practice. My sister was in oral surgery for 6 hours and lost all of her teeth – why? The driver in front of her braked on the highway for a bird! My sister stopped in time, but the driver behind her sandwiched her.
    I take personal offense to the moronic advertisement of Nationwide.

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