When the seasons change, we start to see more wildlife wandering the side of the road, especially deer. As cute as these animals can be, they can pose a danger to you and your vehicle on the road. Hitting a deer is often an unavoidable accident, but here are some tips to try and avoid a collision, and what to do if you can’t.
How To Avoid a Collision With a Deer
Deer are most active in their mating season: October through January. You’ll see them the most when driving near wooded habitats, usually when it’s around dusk or dawn. To make it simple, if you see one of those yellow caution signs that warn you of animal crossing, you should be extra careful.
To avoid any collision, the best thing you can do is make sure you’re paying full attention to the road. In the case of deer, this gives you the opportunity to see wildlife in your path as early as possible so you have more time to react.
If you see one, remain calm–don’t swerve or veer away from the deer. Research shows that about 20% of deaths in motor vehicle crashes result from the vehicle leaving the road and hitting a solid object–a tree, telephone pole, etc. When you try to swerve out of the way of the deer, you are raising your risk of losing control, which can cause you to hit someone in a lane next to you, leave the road entirely, or hit an object off of the road.
It’s better to brake as soon as you see the deer to give it plenty of space to cross. If you have the option to drive in a center lane, it will give you the most time to react. If you don’t see it early enough, it’s better to brake in a straight line and hit the deer than to swerve and put yourself in even more danger.
Remember that deer often travel in herds, so if you see one, chances are another one could be close behind.
Using a long and loud honk of your horn can help to scare the animals off.
Lastly, always remember to wear your seatbelt.
We encourage you to use this information when you need it to drive safer. However, as safe as we can try to be, accidents still happen–especially with animals whose behavior is unpredictable. To find out what to do if you do end up hitting a deer, check back with us in our next article.