How to Avoid Hitting Deer

It’s always important to be attentive when you hit the road — but deer season calls for drivers to be extra vigilant when behind the wheel. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, an estimated 1.5 million deer-vehicle crashes occur on U.S. roadways each year, which is why we want to get you savvy on safe practices for the highway.

So get your deer goggles on and follow these tips to help reduce your chances of a deer-related accident.

6 Tips to Avoid Hitting a Deer

Buckle up. Seatbelts are designed to protect you from a collision or sudden stop — which is exactly what happens when you’re faced with a deer on the highway. The easiest way to help keep you and your family safe is by buckling up.

Be observant. Deer crossing signs are there for a reason — to warn you that the area you’re driving in is heavily populated with deer or common areas deer cross. Be on the lookout and take extra caution when you see these signs. And remember that deer often travel in groups, so where you may only see one, chances are there are more around.

Recruit your passengers. The more people watching for deer, the better. Tell your passengers to be on the lookout and warn you if they see any deer. Even if they see deer grazing in fields far from the road, this could potentially mean more deer are around and trying to cross over.

Signs of the sun. Dawn and dusk are times deer are most active because it’s when they are commonly on the hunt for food. This is also the time of day when visibility is much lower and your vision isn’t at its best. So be extra alert during this time of the day.

Prep your horn. Deer often fixate on headlights, so it may not be effective enough to just flash your lights. Since they’re easy to spook, brake firmly and honk your horn.

Don't swerve. If it’s apparent that a crash is unavoidable, whether it be a deer or other animal crossing the road, do not swerve. Studies show that more serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid an animal. Swerving could cause you to lose control of your vehicle and possibly roll over or hit another car or object.

What to Do If You Hit a Deer

If you do hit a deer, take action by following these steps:

Get off the road. Be savvy about your safety — move your vehicle off the road and turn your hazard lights on so other vehicles can see you and slow down.

Call the police. You may be legally required to report an accident with significant vehicle damage. Having this information documented can also be helpful when filing a claim with your insurance company.

Take photos. Be sure to get photos of your car and the accident scene, but be careful to stay away from the animal and off the road. A wounded animal can become frightened and act aggressively.

File a claim. The comprehensive coverage on your auto policy covers collision with an animal, so be sure to get in touch with your insurance company to report a claim.

Since comprehensive is an optional coverage, you may want to check out your policy or connect with an agent to make sure you have accurate coverage to protect you against instances like hitting a deer. Comprehensive not only covers you for collisions with animals, but other unexpected events like theft, vandalism, hail or other natural disasters, fires or explosions, certain falling objects as well as floods.

Knowing the proper actions to take to avoid hitting a deer can help prevent personal injury and costly vehicle damage, so keep these tips in mind when hitting the road. Give yourself more peace of mind by connecting with your American Family Insurance agent to ensure you have the proper auto coverage to stay protected from the unexpected.


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Related Topics: On The Road