Every fall, it seems, deer are bounding out of the woods and onto the road. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that there are more than 1.5 million deer-vehicle collisions each year, resulting in deaths, injuries and over $1 billion in vehicle damage. Follow these tips to do your best to avoid a vehicle-animal collision:
Keep your eyes open. If you see one large animal, like a deer, on the side of the road, be sure to keep your eyes open and slow down. It’s likely that there may be more nearby.
Brake instead of swerve. Swerving to avoid hitting a large animal could result in a more severe accident, depending on oncoming traffic and your surroundings. Drivers should always do their best to brake instead of veering out of their lane.
Use your high beams. If there isn’t another vehicle in oncoming traffic, use your high beams from dusk until dawn to raise your chances of seeing an animal in or on the side of the road. Deer especially tend to be more active during those times of the day, so slow down and be extra cautious.
If it's unavoidable. If a large animal jumps out in front of your vehicle, sometimes hitting it can’t be avoided. If that’s the case, slow down as much as you can and brace yourself for impact. Try to lower down into your seat so that most of your body will be shielded by the dash board. Large animals, like deer or elk, will often bust a vehicle’s windshield if hit with enough force.
If you hit a large animal:
- Contact the police immediately if medical assistance is needed.
- If you are a fleet driver, contact your fleet manager/fleet management company per your fleet policy.
- If it is your personal vehicle, contact your insurance company to file a claim within 24 hours.
It’s important for drivers to be alert for unexpected animals that enter the roadway. By following these tips we can help reduce the amount vehicle collisions caused by animals.