An unfortunate consequence of the boom of new development in our area is the displacement of wildlife, especially wild deer. Deer mating season can also become a dangerous time for drivers and deer. Many drivers encounter deer crossing busy roadways which result in accidents. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 1.6 million deer-vehicle accidents occur each year. These accidents result in approximately 200 fatalities, tens of thousands of injuries and over $3.6 billion in vehicle damage. It is important to stay vigilant behind the wheel to avoid becoming a statistic.

When driving in areas where deer are present, you should watch out for the entire gang. Deer are pack animals and rarely travel alone. If a deer crosses in front of you on the road, there is a good chance that more are nearby. Slow down and keep an eye out for more deer to avoid a dangerous collision.

Deer are more likely to be active during certain times of the day. Dusk and dawn are popular times for deer to be active, but is also a time when your vision is the most compromised. Compounding the issue of terrible timing is that deer are typically more active during mating seasons between October and January, when you are more likely to be driving after the sun sets. It is important to use your vehicle’s headlights properly, as a deer’s eyes will brightly reflect headlights, making them easier to spot. Slow down and remain alert, especially after dark.

Following general road safety measures can help minimize deer related accidents. Take notice of yellow diamond signs with deer on it, which are are placed in high traffic areas for deer. Wearing your seat belt is also an important way to remain safe. While wearing a seat belt may not prevent a collision, it can reduce accident related injuries. Seat belts are proven to reduce injuries in situations where control is lost and a vehicle collides with something bigger and more stationary then a deer.

Your positioning on the roadway can also help reduce the risk of death or injury as a result of a deer accident. On a multi-lane road, the center lane is the safest position to avoid a deer collision. This gives the deer plenty of space, and in the event that your vehicle startles them, it gives you more reaction time if one darts into the roadway. If you do spot a deer, brake calmly and firmly, and be sure to stay in your lane. Swerving could cause you to lose control of your vehicle and make a bad situation much worse. Further, a deer’s movement is unpredictable and you could end up swerving directly into their path. Some experts recommend a long blast of the horn to scare deer out of the road. However, it is not recommended that drivers rely on hood whistles or other devices to scare off deer, as these have been shown to be ineffective in minimizing accidents.

If you are involved in a collision involving a deer, pull to the side of the road as soon as it is safe to do so. Turn on your hazard lights and remain in your vehicle until it is safe to exit. If there are injuries involved, call emergency services. Likewise, if there is property damage involved, call local law enforcement. Most importantly, stay away from the deer. If it is still alive, it could be confused, injured and dangerous if approached. Upon contacting authorities, let them know if the deer is in a dangerous spot so it can be safely removed.

At Wittmer | Linehan, we are deeply concerned about the safety of our roads.  We have seen first hand the devastation that a car accident can cause to the victim and their family. Insurance companies often make it as difficult as possible for individuals to get the proper reimbursement. Let our team of professionals help you better understand your rights and maximize your recovery.