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Don't swerve if ducks are crossing the freeway, officials advise

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Don't make way for ducklings.

That's what officials are advising after motorists swerved and stopped to avoid a family of ducks on a Minnesota freeway Wednesday afternoon.

More than 10 vehicles traveling on Interstate 35W near Highway 10 in Mounds View around 4 p.m. Wednesday made sure to avoid the ducks, FOX 9 reports.

The incident was captured on Minnesota Department of Transportation traffic cameras:

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But some motorists' last-second maneuvers nearly caused a collision with other vehicles. That's why officials are reminding motorists that stopping for animals is a risky thing to do.

State Patrol spokeswoman Lt. Tiffani Nielson spoke with the Star Tribune about Wednesday's incident, saying a driver could face a criminal charge if stopping for the ducks caused a crash that resulted in injury or death.

"It's the value of a person versus the value of an animal or wildlife," Nielson told the paper. "A person getting injured outweighs the value of the ducks."

Other officials around the country have given the same advice. Julie Startup with the Washington State Patrol told The Associated Press in 2012 that if the animal is shorter than your car's hood, and you don't have time to make a safe lane change, it's better to go through it because swerving can be more dangerous.

And in some cases, Startup said, it might be better to hit the animal even if it's taller than the hood of your car.

Animal-vehicle collisions result in more than 200 human fatalities nationwide annually, Defenders of Wildlife says, and they cause roughly 29,000 human injuries annually. (Note: Animal-vehicle collisions that involve small animals, such as ducks or dogs, are often not noted in these statistics because they typically don't result in significant damage or injury, reports note.)

AAA has some driving tips for avoiding animal-vehicle collisions, which include staying alert so drivers don't have to make a last-second decision and swerve out of the way of an animal.

In 2013, a Minnesota driver was cited in Iowa for failing to maintain control of his vehicle when he swerved to avoid hitting a group of ducklings. He ended up crashing into a van and rolling his vehicle, injuring two passengers riding with him.

In 2010, a Canadian woman pulled over on the side of the road to help herd a group of ducklings to safety. Two passengers on a motorcycle died when they hit the woman's car from behind.

Last year, she was sentenced to 90 days in jail and banned from driving for 10 years. She has appealed the sentence.

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