As if distracted drivers and people who are drinking and driving aren’t enough of a hazard this time of year, now we have to fear the deer. They just seem to come from nowhere, and as you know, they are extremely fast.
Although virtually none of the lower 48 states are immune, some states are worse than others. West Virginia tops the list of the most deer and car collisions, Montana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Iowa round out the top five.
Although a deer can jump out at any time, it is worse this time of year as male deer have one thing in mind: mating. They just aren’t thinking straight.
A recent study done by a university in Alberta claims that deer collisions with vehicles are 34% lower when deer crossing signs are installed on highways. Who knew deer could read? I digress, but it is a good idea to be hyper-vigilant when you see those signs.
Deer Season Driving Tips
So what can you do if a deer jumps in front of your car? Here are some useful tips to keep from being one of over 200 people annually killed by deer coming through your windshield:
- Don’t get distracted by anything. If you see deer crossing signs or know the area to have deer, pay close attention to the road. Look as far down the road as possible, again to give yourself time to slow down if you see something.
- If a collision is inevitable, if you get the proverbial “deer in the headlights” look from a deer and you know you can’t stop, plow through without hitting the brakes. It is intuitive to want to stop, but often at highway speeds, it cannot be done. Braking will dip the front end of the vehicle and increase the chances the deer will come up the hood and through the windshield.
- Use your high-beam headlights when there are no oncoming cars. Deer are hard to see early in the morning and at dusk, your bright lights will help pick up a deer’s eye to give you advanced warning time.
- Don’t be afraid to use your horn. Animals have a tendency to run when you really lay on your horn, which can often make them get in gear and move.
- Do not swerve. There is nobody who loves animals more than me, but swerving often leads to hitting a fixed object, especially a tree. I hate the thought of killing an animal, but sometimes that may be the smartest move.
- If you do hit a deer, you may have an airbag deployment, which can save your life but also shock you and injure you. Get off the road in a safe place, turn your flashers on, and use your cell phone to call for help. Put safety first, always.
State Farm’s latest annual report, which you can read here, estimates there were 1.33 million deer, elk, moose, and caribou collisions from July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018. Be alert, follow the tips I have given you and hopefully you can avoid a collision with an animal, no matter what species.
Photo Copyright: Martins Vanags /Shutterstock